Monday, June 2, 2008

Sympathy for the Devil

Beggars Banquet
Track 1
"Sympathy for the Devil" – 6:27

I wrote this blog entry four times, and erased it four times. If you're counting, that means I'm writing it for the fifth time. The problem is that I cannot summon any modicum of objectivity or distance. The song exists in that wasteland of overplayed classic rock songs – I've listen to "Sympathy for the Devil" maybe hundreds of times, and I just can't hear it anymore. I listen to it, but I'm not hearing anything. It's like that scar I have on my finger, where I had to get a mess of stitches after cutting myself trying to slice a carrot. I know it's there, but I just don't pay it any attention.

I know, in some abstract sense, that it is an important recording in an historical sense, helping to establish Mick's lasting image as... well, something. It also showed a musical progression, from the dippy psychedelia of the Summer of Love to... something else. Dammit, I told you I can't say anything interesting about the song.

Reading the Wikipedia article, there appears to have been quite a bit of public distress upon the release of "Sympathy", something about satanism and such. From our perspective in these enlightened times, that's all faintly ridiculous, but I can't put myself in the position of someone hearing the song for the first time. Was it really all that dark? Was there a discernibly evil vibe? Or were listeners in on the joke? Like I said, I'm too close to the song – it just won't come into focus.

Wait – I thought of one piece of trivia worth passing along: this is the second time the wonderfully named Rocky Dijon makes his appearance on this blog, playing percussion – but the first time, chronologically, he played with the Stones. It won't be the last.

UPDATE: Via friend of the blog Mondo comes this clip of the Stones in the studio playing Sympathy. Pretty cool. The hilarity starts at 1:20.

Also, see

I miss John Lennon.