Politics & Policy

5-4-3-

The third most conservative rock song of all time.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This week on NRO, we’re rolling out the first five and then all 50 songs from a list John J. Miller compiled that appears in the June 5 issue of National Review. (#5 appeared here on Monday, #4 here on Tuesday.) To get the whole list NOW, check out the latest issue of National Review . For itunes links to all 50 songs, hang on until Friday, when we’ll unveil the whole list. 

#3: ‘Sympathy for the Devil,’ by the Rolling Stones (1968)  The Rolling Stones - Singles 1968-1971 - Sympathy for the Devil; buy CD on Amazon.com

The charisma of evil–it comes down to that, really. “Wealth and taste.” Authority: “a general’s rank.” Turning history down dark alleys on a whim: “I stuck around St. Petersburg / when I saw it was time for a change.” Respect predicated on physical violence: “use all your well-learned politesse / or I’ll lay your soul to waste.” Evil is not merely inspired by the desire to gratify some common lust. Evil seduces also because it can be so damnably in charge: Imagine a being who turns heads to tails and sinners to saints; who chokes the life out of the powerful, sometimes with a word, sometimes with two bare hands around the neck. And then he walks away, free. He is in need of some restraint, but there is no restraint. Not in this life.

The devil as drawn by Mick Jagger–he alone wrote the lyrics, inspired by the samizdat novel The Master and Margarita by anti-Soviet author Mikhail Bulgakov–stands over stinking bodies as bombs fall from the sky, swaying to a samba. This is a portrait of badness as a bad guy himself–the personified, horns-on-his-head, pitchfork-and-a-tail bad guy, smiling in a bloody rain and still looking dapper. Yet he is not the Sunday-school devil. This one takes first-person credit for every damned thing: the Hundred Years War, the Bolshevik Revolution, Hitler, and the Kennedy assassinations. But Jagger’s devil doesn’t waste his speech swearing out more warrants against the future. Instead, he dances, shakes maracas, and grooves to a manic bass. He is fearless. The devil who watched Pilate wash his hands at the trial of Christ is the same one with you now. He is real and he will kill you, too. Yet… don’t you want to know more? Come closer. http://www.nationalreview.com/redirect/amazon.p?j=1411683056

The lyrics:

Please allow me to introduce myself

I’m a man of wealth and taste

I’ve been around for a long, long year

Stole many a man’s soul and faith

I was ‘round when Jesus Christ

Had his moment of doubt and pain

Made damn sure that Pilate

Washed his hands and sealed his fate

Pleased to meet you

Hope you guess my name

But what’s puzzling you

Is the nature of my game

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

I rode a tank

Held a general’s rank

When the blitzkrieg raged

And the bodies stank

Pleased to meet you

Hope you guess my name, oh yeah

Ah, what’s puzzling you

Is the nature of my game, oh yeah

I watched with glee

While your kings and queens

Fought for ten decades

For the gods they made

I shouted out,

“Who killed the Kennedys?”

When after all

It was you and me

Let me please introduce myself

I’m a man of wealth and taste

And I laid traps for troubadours

Who get killed before they reach Bombay

Pleased to meet you

Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah

But what’s puzzling you

Is the nature of my game, oh yeah, get down, baby

Pleased to meet you

Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah

But what’s confusing you

Is just the nature of my game

Just as every cop is a criminal

And all the sinners saints

As heads is tails

Just call me Lucifer

’Cause I’m in need of some restraint

So if you meet me

Have some courtesy

Have some sympathy, and some taste

Use all your well-learned politesse

Or I’ll lay your soul to waste, um yeah

Pleased to meet you

Hope you guessed my name, um yeah

But what’s puzzling you

Is the nature of my game, um mean it, get down

Woo, who

Oh yeah, get on down

Oh yeah

Oh yeah!

Tell me baby, what’s my name?

Tell me honey, can ya guess my name?

Tell me baby, what’s my name?

I tell you one time, you’re to blame

Oh, who

woo, woo

Woo, who

Woo, woo

Woo, who, who

Woo, who, who

Oh, yeah

What’s my name?

Tell me, baby, what’s my name?

Tell me, sweetie, what’s my name?

 –Michael Long is a director of the White House Writers Group and the editor of “Too Tough for TV: Rejected jokes of the late-night comics.”

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