This 42-minute excerpt is from Jean-Luc Godard's 1969 film, Sympathy for the Devil. It shows the Rolling Stones in 1968, at Olympic Studios, rehearsing, arranging, and recording their iconic track of the same name.
It's fascinating to see the creative evolution of the song, from a Dylanesque folk number to the riotous number we know today. And aren't we all glad that Mick eventually changed "Pleased to meet y'all…" to "YOU"?
Here's more about the track and the Olympic sessions here:
The main lyrical inspiration for "Sympathy For The Devil" come from a combination of sources Mick Jagger referenced back in 1968. One known source is Charles Baudelaire the French writer and the other is Russian author Mikhail Bulgakov's novel'The Master And The Margarita'. His then girlfriend Marianne Faithfull gifted the latter to him. The book features the Russian writer skillfully blending fantasy with social satire. Baudelaire for example compares the life of Jesus Christ with that of an artist in Soviet Russia, against the backdrop of arbitrary attest and psychiatric hospitals.
There are two main concepts of his work that are featured heavily in the song, which are the reversal of values and the confusion of reality and appearance. In the song this is referenced as the devil being featured as a man with taste, and every cop is a criminal while every sinner saints. Even Christ is remembered for his pain but also for his moments of doubt. As these lyrics mentally register with the listener one may begin to think has evil trumped over good? That being said it's nothing more than fantasy despite Mick Jagger's persistence towards the end of the song by yelling, "Tell me baby, what's my name? Tell me honey, can ya guess my name?" Apart from the religious themes featured in the song Jagger references other important events that occurred in the twentieth century, which is the October Revolution, the assassination of the Tsar and his ministers, WWII & the assassination of the Kennedy Brothers. If you look closely enough Jagger almost wrote the lyrics in a 'Dylanesque poetic verse'
In reality the message of "Sympathy For The Devil" is hardly different from that of "Gimme Shelter" as the philosophy of Peace and Love as heard on "All You Need Is Love" was dead even before it began. The realities of the 60's will be the Vietnam War and the violence that carried forward into the 70's.
Read the rest on Legends of Music.