Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Scorpions - Wind of Change

I have never considered myself to be a political person. Those who do consider themselves political are often singularly minded about it. They watch a lot of political commentary and news, they read books about it, and they listen to music deemed political. The majority of bands who are considered political are often, in my opinion, two things, bad and ironically not politically themed.

Green Day sucks and they bandwagon jumped onto the whole anti-Bush campaign right around the same time everyone else did, and I mean everyone. System of A Down has always sucked, and they believed that inappropriately mentioning events we all consider historically important qualified them as political commentators. We seem to have misclassified childish antagonism as the sole qualifier for being “political.” There is some dramatic point about modern society and the childish antagonism that is the modern political game in the things I have just said, but the point I am attempting to raise is that negativity does not need to be the only possible scene dressing of all politically commentaries.

“We played in Moscow at the Musical Peace Festival back in 89, and we went on stage and we were singing ‘Still Loving You” and a hundred thousand Russians were singing along with a German band; every word. I think that moment was the inspiration for this song I want to play for you now. Even though the wind is blowing in our face, I think there is always hope. Hope we stop killing each other and someday we all live in peace together on this planet. Here is ‘Wind of Change.’” – Klaus Meine

The Scorpions are an old German rock band. The founder of the Scorpions, guitarist Rudolf Schenker, formed the group back in 1965, but it was not until 1970 when Rudolf’s younger brother Michael and Klaus Meine joined the band that the Scorpions became a real force in music. Michael would assist with guitars for a few albums but Meine performs as The Scorpions’ front man to this day. It is a long period of time between 1965 (or even 1970) to 1989 when the Berlin wall finally came down, and I assume it meant a lot for the Scorpions to see Germany united and also friendship with the rest of Europe reborn.

It is amazing to think that in my lifetime I saw the end of the cold war and the opening of borders between countries that constitute some of the strongest friendship in the world. Admittedly I was too young to really appreciate the full significance of peace in Europe at the time the Berlin wall fell, being only eight years old, but it makes a lot of sense to me now hearing Meine’s words about peace and change. He was rocking for nearly two decades before he ever had the opportunity to play in Russia or even the eastern half of his native Germany. When you pause to reflect on the lyrics and the purpose of a song like “Wind of Change” it starts to feel all the more wonderful. This was a song written in many ways as an olive branch of peace and love between the east and west, and even more beautifully it was accepted wholesale.

"Wind of Change" appear on the
Scorpions' 1990 album "Crazy World"
One of the additional reasons I found “Wind of Change” so touching is that the negativity that tore Europe apart for so long is neither ignored nor dwelled upon.

“Walking down the streets,
Distance memories,
Are buried in the past forever.”

I believe this lyric applies to more than just the animosities between the west and the east in the cold war. I believe the sentiment of burying the past applies to the cultural divide in Europe that caused the first and second world wars. It also applies to the racial and political difference between the Germanic and the Slavic people, a racist grudge that many modern youths have completely forgotten. It also applies to the horrors committed by Nazis in World War Two, and no, I do not think it is easy for a German band to quietly brush over the topic. Everything about “Wind of Change” makes it a very political song, but since it is an earnest song about peace and cooperation it may not fit the expectations of modern political thinkers. “Wind of Change” is a hopeful song and everyone knows that does not make good news.

Knowing that “Wind of Change” is a song to unite Europe, and the world, it is wonderful to hear the variety of versions of this song. Other languages Klaus Meine has recorded “Wind of Change” in include:



Interestingly enough I cannot find the German version, which I am all but certain must exist. I should like to say that I think it is fantastic that Klaus Meine can speak so many languages, or at least speak them well enough to sing one of his greatest songs in them. Furthermore I believe the Russian version is significant. The primary focus of “Wind of Change” is the opening of Europe from the fall of the former Soviet Union, Russia welcoming the rest of Europe into their country and the rest of Europe welcoming them as comrades. A German band singing in Russian may be a small way of giving back to that 1989 concert when a hundred thousand Russians sang along with a German band.

I love the Scorpions. They are quite possibly one of the most unrated bands ever here in North America. However in Europe Scorpions are regarded as one of the greatest of all time, which is exactly the kind of respect they deserve, and I hope my few words have sufficiently explained why.

“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.”

- Colin Kelly

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