It might have been Baudelaire. Or perhaps Bulgakov’s “The Master and Margarita.” But whatever the inspiration, The Rolling Stone’s “Sympathy for the Devil,” is an out right hit, and started, so many think, the “Rock and Roll is the music of Satan” controversy.
In first person narrative, the song lists many of the world’s atrocities – The German Blitzkrieg, the Russian Revolution and killing of the Romanov family, the assassination of John and Bobby Kennedy, and decades of religious war in Europe – with the boisterous backing of a chorus of “Whoot wooos.” You can’t help but shuffle your feet and clap your hands. Ostensibly the song is not so much a tribute to Satan’s doings, but the evils of mankind. And the line that says “Just as every cop is a criminal, and all the sinners saints,” sums up that sentiment exactly. Because whether we want to believe it or not, the most holy amongst us are capable of evil, and the most evil capable of kindness. So like the title says, have some sympathy for the devil: As a whole we are no better than him.