Sympathy

Sympathy or Sympathy for the Devil is Jane’s Addiction’s cover of The Rolling Stones song Sympathy for the Devil.  This cover is often mistaken for a nod by Jane’s Addiction to the legendary band, however that isn’t exactly the case as is explained by Dave Navarro in an interview with Alan di Perna, titled “Anarchy in the U.S.A.”, printed in the September 1991 issue of Guitar World:

Navarro: Hmmmm, I didn’t catch that. But it’s funny about the Sixties thing. ‘Cause on our first album, Live XXX, there’s a cover of “Sympathy For The Devil.” And personally–people get surprised and shocked hen they hear this, sometimes angry–I hate the Rolling Stones. I always have and I think I always will. I like what they’ve contributed to the industry, but I would never put on a Rolling Stones record. But did you guys ever get in that trap where you’re playing something and you think it’s great, and all of a sudden someone starts singing the words to some other song? We ended up singing “Sympathy For The Devil” as a joke, and we played it live and it ended up on the record. I can’t believe that one of my least favorite bands is on my first record.

Dave echoed this sentiment five years later in another interview, titled “Birth of a Nation”, with di Perna for the March 1996 issue of Guitar World:

Jane’s Addiction’s opening salvo was a self-titled live album, recorded at the Roxy and released on the indie Triple X label in 1987. The rough-and-tumble record includes an early version of their signature tune “Jane Says” and uninspired covers of Lou Reeds “Rock and Roll” and the Stones “Sympathy for the Devil.”

“I’ve always hated the Rolling Stones,” says Navarro. “Doing that song arose out of one of those situations where you’re trying to write a song, and all of a sudden somebody starts singing the words to some other song on top of it. We did that song as a joke, and it ended up on the record.”

Jane’s Addiction gave this cover an official studio release by re-recording it in 2012 for the show Sons of Anarchy, where it is featured in the finale for season 5 (an episode Dave Navarro also appears in).  The song was released on the show’s second official soundtrack.  Unlike the version of Sympathy that appears on Jane’s self-titled debut, this 2012 version uses the song’s full name “Sympathy for the Devil”.  This new version is a departure from the band’s original stripped down cover, and is more representative of the band’s current sound and direction.

Lyrics (1986 version)

Please allow me to introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste
I’ve been around for a long, long years
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

I’m pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
What’s puzzling you is the nature of my game

I stuck around St. Petersberg
When I saw it was a time for a change
I killed the czars and his ministers
Anastasia screamed in vain
I rode a tank
I held a general’s rank
When the Blitzkrieg raged
And the bodies stank

I’m pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
Now what’s puzzling you is the nature of my game

I watched in glee
While your kings and queens
Fought for ten decades
For the Gods they made
Shouted out “Who killed the Kennedys?”
When after all
It was you and me

Now, let me please introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste
And I laid traps for troubadors
Who get killed before they reached Bombay

I’m pleased to meet you
And I hope you guess my name
But what’s puzzling you is the nature of my game, oh

Pleased to meet you
And I hope that you guess my name, yeah
But what’s puzzling you is the nature of my game

Just as every cop is a criminal
And all the sinner’s saints
As heads or tails call me Lucifer
I’m in need of some restraint
If you meet me have some courtesy, sympathy, and some taste
Use all your well-learned politesse
Or I’ll lay your soul to waste

I’m pleased to meet you
And I hope you’ll guess my name, ah-ah
What’s puzzling you is the nature of my game

Oo-oo
Oo-oo
Oo-oo
Oo-oo
Oo-oo
Oo-oo
Oo-oo
Oo-oo

Now tell me baby
Now what’s my name
Now tell me baby
What’s my name
Now tell me baby
What’s my name
Tell you one time
Oh you’re to blame

Oh-ah
Oh-ah
Oh-ah
Oh-ah
Oh-ah-ah
Oh-ah-ah
Oh-ah-ah
Oh-ah-ah

Oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oo

Oh, What’s my name…

Oh-oh
Ah, ah
Ohhh

Known Performances by Jane's Addiction: (5)

  • 1986/08/?? - Los Angeles, CA, KXLU Loyola Marymount College Radio
  • 1987/01/26 - West Hollywood, CA, Roxy Theatre, The
  • 1987/03/07 - Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA, Lhasa Club
  • 2009/04/11 - Las Vegas, NV, Mirage's Bare Pool
  • 2011/10/18 - New York City, NY, Irving Plaza
  • Known Performances by Peter DiStefano: (1)

  • 2004/12/10 - Denver, CO, Herman's Hideaway
  • Known Performances by Perry Farrell: (2)

  • 2009/11/22 - Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA, Avalon, The
  • 2012/12/11 - Austin, TX, Austin City Limits
  • Known Performances by Camp Freddy: (3)

  • 2010/04/15 - Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA, Central Courtyard at Hollywood & Highland
  • 2010/05/15 - Chicago, IL, Venue One, The Museum Of Contemporary Art
  • 2012/12/11 - Austin, TX, Austin City Limits