Did the CIA Write Scorpions’ 1990 Hit, “Wind of Change”?
“Wind of Change” is likely the best known track by long-running German metal outfit Scorpions, who have been at it since the late ’60s. Released in 1990, the lyrics were composed by lead singer Klaus Meine during the band’s visit to the USSR, and it became a de facto anthem for the fall of the Soviet Union and Berlin Wall in 1991. With 245 million streams on Spotify, the power ballad edges out the band’s next biggest hit, “Rock You Like a Hurricane” (225 million), which in turn has double the streams of the band’s third most popular track, “Still Loving You.”
But was the massive worldwide hit actually written and planted by the United States Central Intelligence Agency?
A new podcast series, Wind of Change, follows New Yorker investigative journalist Patrick Radden Keefe as he criss-crosses the glove to investigate a rumor, which he heard from a source within the CIA, that the secretive U.S. intelligence force was behind the hit song. A report from Deadline promises, “He will look at spies doing the unthinkable, a secret history of propaganda hidden in pop music, and a maze of government secrets as he attempts to untangle one of the great mysteries of the Cold War.”
“It’s a story that stretches across musical genres, and across borders and periods of history, so it was important to me that you hear the music, and the accents and the voices, and judge for yourself who might be lying and who is telling the truth. I’ve had so much fun pursuing this crazy story over the course of a year, exploring the dark byways of Cold War history and doing nearly a hundred interviews in four countries with rockers and spies. I can’t wait to share it with the world.”
But is it true? Seems like the kind of thing where listeners will be presented with different viewpoints and asked to decide for themselves, but here’s what Crooked Media co-founder Tommy Vietor offered on the matter:
“[It’s] crazy enough to be true. We know that the CIA covertly sponsored cultural events during the 50s and 60s. They paid to film George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm. They sponsored a European tour for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Why not help a German rock band write a power ballad to shred the iron curtain? And while the CIA closely guards its secrets, Patrick is one of the best investigative journalists and writers of his generation, and no one is better positioned to find out the truth.”
The eight-part series, appropriately titled Wind of Change, debuts May 11 on Spotify, and is helmed by Pod Save America producer Crooked Media and Missing Richard Simmons producer Pineapple Street Studios.
Mark your calendars, everyone; this one’s gonna be a whole lot of fun, and is just the kind of entertainment we need to get us through this pandemic.