Julian Sanchez header image 2

photos by Lara Shipley

No Sympathy for Certain Devils

February 13th, 2005 · 3 Comments

Couple days ago, I was walking around with “Sympathy for the Devil” stuck in my head for no particular reason, and paused as I mumbled out these lyrics mid-laundry-fold:

I stuck around St. Petersburg
When I saw it was a time for a change
Killed the czar and his ministers
Anastasia screamed in vain

And that struck me as interesting: They’ve stuck the Russian Revolution—not even the later atrociites of, say, Stalin, which would be consistent with a Trotskyite “revolution betrayed” view of communism—in the song’s list of historical events at which the diabolical narrator is present, grouped together with the crucifixion, the Kennedy assassination, and World War II. Could that be Mick’s time at the London School of Economics poking through?

ADDENDUM Geez, apparently Matt’s preblogged me on this one as well. Damn you, Yglesiaaaaaaaas!

Tags: Art & Culture



3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jonathan Dingel // Feb 14, 2005 at 7:28 am

    It had nothing to do with Yglesias’ Saturday post by that title?

  • 2 KevinNYC // Feb 17, 2005 at 7:50 pm

    Thanks. I’ve always wondered who screamed in vain, I could never make out that lyric.

  • 3 J. Goard // Feb 18, 2005 at 3:35 am

    Your post (and reflection upon the song, which with near-total ennui toward the Stones, I’ve long considered their most redeemable) has prompted me to look up the description of Randall Flagg in Chapter 23 of _The Stand_ (uncut edition):

    “His pockets were stuffed with fifty different kinds of conflicting literature — pamphlets for all seasons, rhetoric for all reasons. When this man handed you a tract you took it no matter what the subject: the dangers of atomic power plants, the role played by the International Jewish Cartel in the overthrow of friendly governments, the CIA-Contra-cocaine connection, the farm workers’ unions, the Jehovah’s Witnesses… the Blacks for Militant Equality, the Kode of the Klan. He had them all, and more, too… There was a dark hilarity in his face, and perhaps in his heart, too, you would think — and you would be right… It was a face guaranteed to make barroom arguments over batting averages turn bloody.”

    I believe that the decision to shoot a terrified little girl in the face is more at issue in the song, Julian, than complex politico-economic implications of the event. In philosophy-major code, this may be a case where virtue ethics and consequentialism clash. (As they do frequently now that the Kantian/Randian deontological approach has been conclusively proven insane. Hehheh. I need TP for my bunghole.)