Sympathy for the Columnists
This is not a Forum.
by Dr. Spin
December 30, 2002
In the Rolling Stones’ "Sympathy for the Devil," are we really supposed to feel sorry for the Devil, or is some other point being made?
Lack of Sympathy
In my humble opinion, “Sympathy for the Devil” is one of the most theologically interesting songs ever written. In the song, Mick Jagger sings from the perspective of Lucifer (aka the Devil). His Lucifer is smug, cocky, arrogant, bragging about his power and influence over history. In some ways “Sympathy” embodies the image the Stones tried to create, the cocky, rebellious “anti-Beatles;” if the Beatles represented the type of boyfriend your parents would approve, the Stones were the type your parents would call “a bad influence.”
I don’t know what message Jagger and Richards were trying to convey with this song; perhaps the ambiguity is part of the point. Certainly the song seems tongue-in-cheek, but is it? “Please to meet you, hope you guess my name/but what’s puzzling you is the nature of my game.” Maybe the chorus says it all.
To me, the Stones paint a more realistic vision of the Devil than any of the “satanic” Heavy Metal bands. What sounds more like the Devil to you? A sadistic, fire-breathing hater of all that’s good, or a slick, boastful con artist, who likes to trick us into our own traps?
I don’t think the Stones intended for us to have any sympathy for the Devil. It is a clearly tongue-in-cheek tune, but I think the song has theological ramifications, perhaps of which they weren’t aware.
Dear Dr. Spin,
Why do people use columnists to vent when there are other forums for their opinions?
I thought the Webmaster banned you and me from ever communicating to each other in our columns.
Once again, your question is not of a musical nature, but as a U.S. President once said, “I feel your pain.” I don’t know why people use our columns to vent and spout their views on subjects unrelated to our columns, when the Partial Observer has perfectly good forums for such purposes. Perhaps they feel that by writing to us they will get more exposure and readers than they would if they wrote in the forums. Maybe we encourage them by actually responding.
You would think that people writing to a MUSIC columnist would have questions and comments about MUSIC, but apparently they’d rather talk about AIDS and Africa. Barbra Streisand and Bono could adopt the entire country of Uganda for all I care; it would not change my opinion of either of their music one iota.
Don’t get me wrong; I do have views and opinions on Bono and his AIDS causes, but they have nothing to do with his music or my column. If I wanted to write a column about political stuff, I would have changed my name to James Leroy Wilson or Barnabas. If you really, REALLY need to mix politics and music, ask me questions about protest songs. Otherwise, lend your opinions to the forums; they need you there.
Finally, let me give some advise to all would-be letter writers: When you address Dear Jon or me,
Have some courtesy, have some sympathy, and some taste! Use all your well-learned politesse, or we'll lay your souls to waste!
Thank you, and have a Happy New Year!
About the Author:
Dr. Spin is a man not of wealth, but taste. He also reads the FORUMS of the Partial Observer.
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