In 1990, I was participating in an international athletic and cultural exchange program between our Florida high school (Maclay School in Tallahassee) and a sister school in Hamburg, Germany.
We went overseas for two weeks to play soccer, learn the culture, drink German beer and meet German girls (not in that order). The country was fantastic and at the pub, every single night, a certain song would come on by a German band and the place would go silent as the whistling intro began.
Tears would start, smiles and head shaking, hugging, joy, and then shouts and cheers as the song played out. The song was by the Scorpions, and it was called “Wind of Change.” This song was huge all over the world (and beyond huge in Europe) and is in fact one of the top 15 biggest singles of all time.
It sits in the rankings next to Elvis, Whitney Houston, Elton John, and Bing Crosby. (Who would have thought White Christmas was the biggest single of all time?)
At that time, the Cold War a lot of us grew up in and lived through was ending. It was the dawn of a new era in that area and around Eastern Europe. Things were happening they never thought would be possible (the wall coming down) and it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to get a small glimpse of it during that soccer trip.
The singer of the Scorpions, Klaus Meine, had this to say about the song: “The idea came to me in the U.S.S.R. when I was sitting in the Gorky Park Center one summer night, looking at the Moskva River. The song is my personal reappraisal of what has happened in the world in recent years.”
Change was literally in the air in 1990 (in the wind actually) and we are going to take a closer look today from a remarkably interesting perspective. Listen to the song while you read to get into the spirit of things:
What is a conspiracy theory? It’s defined as a theory that explains an event or situation as the result of a secret plan by usually powerful people or groups.
In Florida, we have conspiracy theories and unusual things in every corner of the state. You can see conspiracy theories on voting, hurricanes, and vaccines in our news almost every day. We also have a long list of oddities in our state, including the Dome Houses of Cape Ramano, the Venus Project, and the historic site of the birthplace of the religion Korshanity and the Hollow Earth Theory. We even have a very different-than-your-norm religious group (members include Tom Cruise, etc. — and we are ready for Maverick Mr. Cruise, so ready … Church of Scientology HQ.
The Flag Building — also known as the Super Power Building — is the largest building in Clearwater.
According to Wikipedia, it is the site of high-level Scientology training course intended to train Scientologists to use what is described as “all of their 57 “perceptics” or senses. The interior of the building contains training suites, course rooms, theaters and various devices intended to test these “perceptics,” including a “time machine,” an anti-gravity simulator, an “infinite” pit, and a “pain station.”
Whew, that is a lot to take in.
Bottom line — Florida has it all, beaches, great economy, amazing football teams (hopefully Coaches Napier, Norvell, Diaz), oddities galore, Super Power Buildings and lots of conspiracy theories. Some local, some international.
This brings us back to the Scorpions.
Have you ever heard of PSYOPS? The military and CIA use this term to describe psychological operations designed to influence thinking.
Journalist Patrick Radden Keefe (The New Yorker, Slate, and The New York Times Magazine) speculated the song Wind of Change was actually written by the CIA and was part of the effort to win the hearts and minds of Eastern Europe. Or, in other words, a type of PSYOPS to make sure the population overseas was seeing the changes in Russia and Germany as a huge positive. In our world of fake news, bogus social media accounts, and sketchy advertising, could this actually be true? Probably not.
You can take the deep dive in Patrick’s the Wind of Change podcast and make your own decision — because that’s what we love about America, choice.
Patrick takes us around the globe in his search for the truth. He attends a Scorpions concert in Kyiv, Ukraine and interviews fans before the show about the band and their feelings toward that song. Considering the obvious current events, that episode was extremely powerful.
Ultimately, the question you must ask is — could the CIA pull something off like that?
If you look at the 2012 Ben Affleck-directed film “Argo,” the answer is yes.
Argo tells the true story of the CIA putting a fake movie together with the goal of freeing six Americans being held hostage in Iran in the late 70s. They hire a real producer, write a real script and go all-in to make this happen.
So why not pull Scorpion frontman Meine aside and hand him a song to help encourage (or at least make everyone feel good about it worldwide) the fall of the Soviet Union? While Patrick does not present any hard evidence, he knows how to tell a story as he has done with his books on The Sackler Family (Oxycontin), Northern Ireland and many more intense tales.
For example, a CIA agent allegedly met with Klaus one-on-one in Memphis before a show on a U.S. tour. This is certainly not the norm. The fact that Klaus wrote the song is a bit odd as he is rarely a songwriter (he usually writes the lyrics only) in the band — and he writes their biggest hit out of the blue? It’s very different sonically and lyrically than most of their popular songs.
Like this one:
True or not, the podcast is extremely well-produced and an entertaining listen. It made my Saturday drive from Jacksonville to Tallahassee fly by. Stay tuned, as it is going to be turned into a Hulu series for television in the coming months.
As we move forward into 2022 and beyond, more theories, tense times, and new and familiar oddities await us in Florida and around the world. Elections, gas prices, hurricanes, war overseas — the winds of change are blowing as they always do.
In fact, they have blown the Scorpions to Las Vegas this month for a string of shows. I am sure they will rock you like a hurricane if you find yourself at Planet Hollywood. And that is no conspiracy — that’s a fact.
After all these years, CIA influence or not, the Scorpions put on one hell of a show and are one of the few bands that still today have an audience in just about every country on earth. Plus, you are guaranteed to hear this number about unity and peace that could be the new anthem for the Russian retreat from Ukraine.
“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.”
Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies, author of “Professionally Distanced,” host of the Biz & Tech podcast and his fave Scorpions show was when they co-headlined a tour with Mötley Crüe in 2000. He can be reached at [email protected].