The German rock group Scorpions could never imagine that their song "Wind of Change" would become the unofficial anthem of the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification, but when the musicians played in 1988 and 1989 in the Soviet Union they already sensed "winds of change".
"We had the feeling that the world was changing in front of our eyes," says Klaus Meine, vocalist and group leader, who triumphed in 1988 in Leningrad (today St. Petersburg) and especially a year later at the Peace Festival of Moscow, which served as inspiration for the best selling theme of the Scorpions.
Despite being the song par excellence of the fall of the wall, "Wind of Change" does not speak of the historical event that took place on the night of November 9, 1989. It was conceived before the steps were opened between the two halves of Berlin and only became the "anthem" with the release of the album "Crazy World" (1990) and the single (1991).
THE RUSSIAN WOODSTOCK
The song expresses what in the summer of 1989 many felt when the Scorpions were at the Moscow Peace Festival: "the hope that the world changes and we can live together in a peaceful world," Meine says by phone from Germany, during a break from the group's world tour.
"You could feel that the world was transforming and in a sense everything that happened a few months later in Berlin, that is to say the fall of the wall, was palpable in August in Moscow: that things were changing and that the times of the Cold War they would soon be left behind, "explains the 71-year-old musician.
It was difficult to play in the Soviet Union and a western rock band was looked upon suspiciously. In 1988 the Russian authorities had "disinvited" them from Moscow, where they were going to give five concerts and proposed ten in exchange for them in Leningrad. The KGB followed at every step, recalls the singer.
As an international rock group that had triumphed in the 80s, especially in the US, with hits such as "Blackout", "Still Loving You" or "Rock You Like A Hurricane", the Scorpions felt their first Soviet adventure suddenly " very German. "
"We said our parents had come with tanks, we with guitars," says Meine.
But they triumphed in Leningrad. And they opened "the doors wide" to the other western musicians who, like Ozzy Osbourne, Bon Jovi and Mötley Crüe, would play a year later next to the Scorpions for two days before 100,000 fans in the Muscovite Lenin stadium (now Luzhnikí ).
The GORBACHOV EFFECT
Meine is convinced that the international event, the "Russian Woodstock", was also possible because "there was someone in the Kremlin, Mikhail Gorbachev, whose policy of Glasnóst (transparency) and Perestroika (restructuring), its opening, the new opening, what facilitated. "
In Moscow "it was noted that in just one year a lot had changed and when we went on stage the soldiers of the Red Army, the soldiers assigned to security turned and threw their caps into the air. They became one with the public."
Remember that many young people approached him and said: "Klaus, the times of the Cold War will have passed soon. Here is a new generation and the old days will be left behind. The signs all point to the future."
"It was, in other words, how to say here there is a new wind and that, together with everything we had lived (in the concerts in the USSR) was what served as inspiration for 'Wind of Change'," he explains.
Meine had "the hope" that the change she had seen in Moscow would come true. But he never thought that the wall would fall "so fast" when he began writing success in early September, upon his return from the "Russian Woodstock".
It was one night during the Peace Festival when Meine began building the song in her mind.
"We were all in a boat sailing on the Moskva River. All the musicians, the MTV, journalists. It was a bit like everyone was in a single boat and they all spoke the same language: music." "The language of music was understood in all places and that was especially noticeable in the USSR in 1988 and 1989."
From that trip by boat the first stanza of the song came out: "I follow the Moscova / towards the Gorky park / listening to the winds of change. One summer night in August / soldiers pass by / listening to the winds of change."
A GROUP THAT GROWED WITH THE WALL
For a German group such as the Scorpions, whose core grew in Hannover, in the Federal Republic of Germany (RFA) and lived closely with tensions, the winds of change they had felt in Moscow were something emotional and special.
The musician lived with "fear and awe" the construction of the wall and all the "confrontations" between the two blocks.
"Sometimes there was that feeling that the world was facing a new world war." For example when in 1960 the then Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev took off his shoe and "clubbed" the UN rostrum in a session of the General Assembly.
"It was so aggressive that you really thought we were not far from a military confrontation," he said. And in October 1961, in fact, American and Soviet tanks were confronted in the legendary Check Point Charlie in Berlin, he recalls. "There were very delicate moments," he emphasizes.
When the group was "young" he often traveled to West Berlin in his van and had to go through the Helmstedt border crossing, where soldiers searched their belongings.
"Every time I drive to Berlin today and pass near Helmstedt, I often think of those times and I am glad that we live today in a reunified Germany. And I think that young generations should never forget what it means to live in a broken country. "he points out.
A CURRENT MESSAGE
Perhaps that is why the "Wind of Change" message goes beyond its association with the fall of the wall. It also inspires many people around the world, who apply that same message of hope to their own political situation, for example in the Middle East, says Meine.
"It is still a song of hope", that a "better and more peaceful" world is possible.
Taking a look at today, 30 years after the fall of the wall, the Scorpions vocalist admits that "it is often scary to see how the world is evolving."
"One can only expect the wind to change again, hopefully as 30 years ago, in an optimistic, positive and peaceful direction," concludes the German.
When the wall fell, the group was at a working dinner in Paris and suddenly they saw people on the television “dancing on the wall”. At that moment the Scorpions had no greater desire than to be in Berlin. "It was very emotional, just wonderful."
To Gorbachev the group has seen him several times. On anniversaries of the fall of the wall and on the birthday of the last leader of the Soviet Union. But one of the meetings was especially important, because again the Scorpions were "very close to history."
In December 1991 they were invited by Gorbachev to the Kremlin, where they talked with him and his wife Raísa for an hour. It was 11 days before December 25 announced in a speech on television the disappearance of the USSR.
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