Did CIA write Scorpions hit "Wind Of Change"?
Did the US intelligence agency, and not the German rock band Scorpions, compose the power ballad "Wind of Change" to help topple the Communist Bloc? A podcast by New Yorker writer Patrick Radden Keefe looks into it.

The power ballad "Wind of Change" is the definitive soundtrack of the fall of the Eastern communist bloc. It was written by the German hard rock band Scorpions in September 1989, just two months before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Thanks to its English lyrics, it captured the mood of the moment across the entire Eastern Bloc and people`s hope for change.

Roughly 14 million copies of the single have been sold around the world to date. It has scored a spot on 78 national music charts, and a remastered version released in 2009 has been viewed on YouTube more than 765 million times.

Scorpion front man Klaus Meine said the band`s participation in the legendary Moscow Music Peace Festival in August 1989 moved him to write the song.

He described the moment of inspiration for German newspaper Hamburger Abendblatt: "Everyone was all together one evening — Germans, Russian and American musicians, journalists and also members of the [Soviet] Red Army — all in one boat on the Moskva River going to Gorky Park. That was the vision: The whole world in one boast, everyone speaking the same language — music."

But was that really how it happened?

That`s the simple question US investigative journalist Patrick Radden Keefe asks in his podcast, Wind of Change, which looks into whether the Scorpions` power ballad — which "might just be the most influential song of the 20th century," as Keefe describes it in a trailer for the series — was actually composed by US intelligence agents to feed the burgeoning anti-communist revolutions in Soviet-controlled states.

"Could that be possible, that the CIA could have collaborated with a German hair band to write a power ballad that ended the Cold War and somehow kept the whole thing secret ever since?" he asks in the series` trailer.

Keefe`s starting point is a rumor that was shared with him by a friend, who heard it in turn from their friend, a former CIA employee, who heard it from a colleague... In other words, it`s hearsay. But it`s enough for Keefe to kickstart broad-reaching investigative research.

Over multiple episodes totaling more than six hours, Keefe searches for proof and repeatedly turns up empty-handed — or at least unable to pin down irrefutable facts. Instead, he reveals basics of the CIA`s work in the cultural sphere, such as how American-African musicians in the 60s and 70s, Nina Simone and Louis Armstrong among them, were used without their knowledge for foreign policy purposes in numerous African nations.

Keefe also recalls another example of a psychological operation, which aimed to sway emotions and perspectives. In 1979 Canadian and CIA operatives managed to smuggle American hostages out of Iran by disguising them as a film crew. The dramatic story was made into the Oscar-winning movie Argo in 2012. Even the movie`s existence is no coincidence, according to the podcast, as the head of the CIA supposedly personally called for the release of a positive story about a successful CIA operation.

Keefe finally meets Klaus Meine just when the podcast tangles itself up in too many assumptions and questions. They talk about the era when the Communist Bloc was crumbling and about how "Wind of Change" came about. Finally, Keefe confronts Meine with the results of his research. Without spoiling anything, Meine responds with his own conclusion, "Doesn`t that show the power of music more than anything?"

I guess the real answer is still blowing in the wind of change