Please allow me to introduce myself: Autobiographical blues self-fashioning in 'Sympathy for the Devil'

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This essay explores the ways in which ‘Sympathy for the Devil’s’ narrator creates a self through autobiographical blues self-invention. By claiming physical proximity to, and responsibility for, catastrophic, global events across millennia, the narrator situates himself within a traditional blues culture where the devil—through Faustian barter or shadowy influence—wields considerable power. Through the analysis of the lyrical content, and the numerous in-studio performances of ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ captured in the Jean-Luc Godard documentary of the same name, this work considers how the Rolling Stones—and Mick Jagger in particular—advances romantic satanic blues mythologies while participating in autobiographical blues self-invention. I argue that ‘Sympathy for the Devil’s’ unreliable satanic narrator engages in fictionalized autobiographical blues self-fashioning, effectively writing himself into the Southern American blues tradition through tall tale telling and the strong impulse to self-name.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBeggars Banquet and the Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Revolution
Subtitle of host publication'They Call My Name Disturbance'
EditorsRussell Reising
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9780203729830
ISBN (Print)9781138304758, 9781032082431
StatePublished - May 28 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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