Friday, September 26, 2008

"Wind of Change" - The Scorpions, 1989 (rock)

I follow the Moskva
Down to Gorky Park
Listening to the wind of change
An August summer night
Soldiers passing by
Listening to the wind of change

The world is closing in
Did you ever think
That we could be so close, like brothers
The future's in the air
I can feel it everywhere
Blowing with the wind of change

Take me to the magic of the moment
On a glory night
Where the children of tomorrow dream away
in the wind of change

Walking down the street
Distant memories
Are buried in the past forever
I folow the Moskva
Down to Gorky Park
Listening to the wind of change

Take me to the magic of the moment
On a glory night
Where the children of tomorrow share their dreams
With you and me
Take me to the magic of the moment
On a glory night
Where the children of tomorrow dream away
in the wind of change

The wind of change
Blows straight into the face of time
Like a stormwind that will ring the freedom bell
For peace of mind
Let your balalaika sing
What my guitar wants to say

The Meine brothers, whom you and I know as a couple of serious guitar shredders who hail from Germany (aka The Scorpions), began writing this song in 1989 after a visit to Moscow. They were actually the first hard rock band ever to play in Russia. They returned the following year to play the Moscow Music Peace Festival. It was then that the words to this song were written. They were inspired by the site of thousands of Russians cheering them on, even though they were German. Lead singer Klaus Meine is quoted as saying, "Everyone was there: the Red Army, journalists, musicians from Germany, from America, from Russia - the whole world on one boat. It was like a vision; everyone was talking the same language. It was a very positive vibe. That night was the basic inspiration for Wind Of Change."

It was the same year this song was written that the world changed forever. Modern history will record that in late summer of 1989, Communist Europe ceased to be. "Wind of Change" rose to be the unofficial theme song of the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, late in the summer of 1989.

The Berlin Wall was erected in 1961 and separated two German states for 28 years. West Berlin was free. East Berlin was not. The Wall was over 96 miles long and was actually two walls back to back. In 1975, the final modifications to The Wall were added, constructed from 45,000 sections of reinforced concrete each 12 feet high and 4 feet thick. It had 116 watchtowers, 20 bunkers, barbed wire, canine patrols, fakir beds (beds of nails under balconies) and anti-vehicle trenches that guarded a "no man's land"...the death strip area in between the two walls. It was paved with raked gravel, which made it easy to spot foot prints.

When the border between East and West Berlin was officially closed at midnight on August 13, 1961. East Berlin was controlled by Josef Stalin and became a socialist state. Families were abruptly separated. People who commuted to work from East to West were instantly either homeless or without employment. At least 136 people are confirmed killed trying to escape from East to West Berlin (but there were probably many, many more "unconfirmed"), and countless documented and undocumented desperate successful and failed escape attempts.

Ironically, the collectiveness The Scorpions (and everyone else) experienced at the Moscow Music Peace Festival would not end when the Music Peace Festival ended. "Wind of Change" celebrated the political shift in Eastern Europe. Although "Winds of Change" wasn't written specifically about the Berlin Wall, the feelings of the world and the lyrics of the Meines was somewhat of poetic foreshadowing. The Berlin Wall was an icon of the rule of tyranny and poverty behind the Iron Curtain, and it was one of the largest, most real, tangible, material objects that smacked the face of humanity and said that the Cold War was real...and it was so much more than simple politics. When the Berlin Wall came down, it signalled the beginning of total collapse of the Iron Curtain in Europe, which would trickle all the way up to the very hub of communism: Mother Russia. The Cold War, which had gripped the world and glued us to the edge of our seats for five decades, was finally over.

In 2005, viewers of the German television network ZDF chose "Wind of Change" as song of the century. It is the highest ever selling song in Germany, and is frequently played with footage of the Wall coming down. This song is also widely known in Germany as the song of German reunification (and the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, generally), even though it only rose to popularity two years after.

A key to some of the lyrics:
Moskva - the name of a river that runs through Moscow
Gorky Park - an amusement park in Moscow
balalaika - a musical instrument of Russian origin that is fretted and has three strings and looks an awful lot like a Gibson Flying V guitar.

"Wind of Change" - The Scorpions, 1989

(gathered freely from east to west and various places in between)