Did The CIA Write The Scorpions’ Biggest Hit?

The Scorpions blasted heavy metal, but a power ballad brought down the USSR. New podcast Wind of Change will explore the strange story.

Wind of Change Podcast
Photo: Crooked Media

We all know the CIA runs the music industry. Didn’t The Simpsons leak that years ago? If not a new podcast series will follow the idea to its logical conclusion. If CIA hitman and Gong Show host Chuck Barris could write “Palisade Park,” why couldn’t other agents come up with a catchy tune. Spotify’s latest original podcast documentary series Wind of Change will explore whether the Scorpions’ 1990 song was Cold War propaganda, according to Deadline.

The no longer secret project will be produced by Spotify, along with New Yorker investigative journalist Patrick Radden Keefe, “Pod Save America” producer Crooked Media, and Pineapple Street Studios, which produced Missing Richard Simmons.

Sung by Klaus Meine, “Wind of Change” was the song which played during the Glasnostic end of the Cold War. Its music video featured the building and dismantling of the Berlin Wall, the most visible symbol of the reunification of East and West Germany. “Wind of Change” was written during the days of perestroika when the Scorpions played the U.S.S.R. on the tour promoting their 1988 Savage Amusement album. The song, which appeared on the heavy metal band from West Germany’s 11th studio album, Crazy World, is credited to Meine. The eight-part series chases down a rumor Keefe heard that the power ballad had a very covert ghostwriter.

The song came out immediately following a failed coup which sparked the collapse of the Soviet Union. Keefe, who also wrote the New York Times-bestseller Say Nothing, The Snakehead and Chatter, says he’s been investigating this story for more than a decade.

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“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,” Keefe said in a statement via Deadline. “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.”

“Patrick’s decade-long investigation is filled with twists and turns, and the resounding cinematic quality of the narrative is captured by the dynamic music and interviews that are featured throughout the podcast,” Spotify’s Head of Networking Liz Gateley said in a statement via Deadline.

The story is “crazy enough to be true,” Crooked Media co-founder Tommy Vietor said in a statement. The docupodcast will also explore the history of propaganda hidden in pop music. “We know that the CIA covertly sponsored cultural events during the 50s and 60s,” he added. “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.”

Wind of Change debuts May 11.