It was called “the end of history”. To many, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 marked a new beginning. The Cold War was won, and things could only get better. Few songs capture the optimism of the 1990s than ‘Winds of Change’ by Scorpions. But now, the band have decided to change the lyrics to the chart-topping single, explaining that the original words “romanticise Russia”.
The German hard rocker’s decision to alter the lyrics comes as the conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues to escalate. They changed the words ahead of their US and EU tour, which opened in Las Vegas in March, just a month after Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine.
Speaking to Die Zeit, Klaus Meine said: “To sing ‘Wind of Change’ as we have always sung it, that’s not something I could imagine anymore. It simply isn’t right to romanticise Russia with lyrics like: ‘I follow the Moskva/ Down to Gorky Park…Let your balalaika sing’. The altered lyrics read: “Now listen to my heart/ It says Ukrainia/ Waiting for the wind to change.” The words are projected onto a screen behind the band as they perform.
Scorpions wrote ‘Winds Of Change’ during a trip to Moscow in 1989. The year before, they had made headlines for being the first hard-rock outfit to play in Russia, and they decided to return to the Moscow Music Peace Festival. During their performance, they were inspired by the sight of thousands of Russian audience members cheering them, a German band, on.
The track became Scorpions’ most famous song and was later voted the song of the 20th century by viewers of public broadcaster ZDF. Despite being released over a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the song is widely regarded as soundtracking the cultural, economic and social changes that marked the end of the Soviet Union and the end of The Cold War.
But with Western tech companies, fast food outlets and cultural institutions distancing themselves from Russia, it would seem Scorpions may have spoken too soon.