David Byrne Revisits His Goofy “Sympathy For The Devil” Cover

Today David Byrne’s website begins a series called From The Archives which, simply enough, involves posting old Byrne recordings. It kicks off with a 1992 concert recording of Byrne covering the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy For The Devil” in highly Byrne-like fashion. Here’s some background from Byrne as posted on his site:

I covered Sympathy For The Devil on a tour I did in ’92 with a large latin funk band. It was a late addition to the set list. This mix sounds like a board mix or maybe a monitor mix. Why did we do this? Because we could! We had a band lineup that could rock this tune… so why not? We did it as an encore number, which is where these oddball unexpected covers sometimes land. The lyrics (I had to research the real lyrics) are sometimes absolutely brilliant, sometimes silly (the Stones playing at being bad boys) and sometimes completely nonsensical. I covered Keith’s guitar solo as best I could. You can hear the audience doing the “woo wooh’s” in the 1st verse!

You’ll notice I go into a “funny” voice about two-thirds through for certain lines. I was trying to sing like Goofy, the Disney character. Why? Well, there actually was a reason, though maybe not one good enough to justify how weird this sounds. I have long believed that the devil, should one exist, would not be some scary guy, but someone who sweetly perverts our better natures by more surreptitious means… and for me, Disney is the perfect example of that, with maybe the Olsen Twins as his consorts. So, following that logic, Goofy (the “harmless” clown minion) would be the perfect one to suggest we have some “sympathy” for the devil.

Listen below, and read some further commentary from Jasper Berg, a member of North Highlands and an employee of Byrne’s TodoMundo! label, here.

It’s no “Fantastic Man,” but it’ll do.

[Photo by Paul R. Giunta/Getty Images.