EXCLUSIVE: Did the CIA write Scorpions’ hit song Wind of Change? This is the wild story of Spotify’s latest original podcast documentary series.
The audio platform has teamed up with New Yorker investigative journalist Patrick Radden Keefe, Pod Save America producer Crooked Media and Missing Richard Simmons producer Pineapple Street Studios for Wind of Change.
The eight-part series, which debuts May 11, follows Keefe as he explores a rumor he heard from a source within the CIA: The CIA was behind the 1990 international hit. He will look at spies doing the unthinkable, a secret history of propaganda hidden in pop music, and a maze of government secrets as he attempts to untangle one of the great mysteries of the Cold War.
It’s been described as This is Spinal Tap meets All the President’s Men. In addition to a podcast series, I imagine there will be lots of TV and film interest for this story.
Power ballad Wind of Change was recorded by West German rock band Scorpions in 1990; the lyrics were composed by lead singer Klaus Meine during the band’s visit to the USSR at the height of perestroika. It was released just after the failed coup that would eventually lead to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Patrick Radden Keefe is a staff writer at The New Yorker, and author of New York Times-bestseller Say Nothing as well as The Snakehead and Chatter. Previous reporting includes stories on chef Anthony Bourdain, the hunt for drug lord Chapo Guzman, and the mass shooter Amy Bishop. He is currently writing a book about the Sackler family and the opioid crisis.
Keefe said that he’s been investigating this story for over ten years but only recently realized that it would be best as a “sweeping” and “globe-trotting” podcast. “It’s a story that stretches across musical genres, and across borders and periods of history, so it was important to me that you hear the music, and the accents and the voices, and judge for yourself who might be lying and who is telling the truth. I’ve had so much fun pursuing this crazy story over the course of a year, exploring the dark byways of Cold War history and doing nearly a hundred interviews in four countries with rockers and spies. I can’t wait to share it with the world,” he added.
Crooked Media co-founder Tommy Vietor said that the story is “crazy enough to be true”. “We know that the CIA covertly sponsored cultural events during the 50s and 60s,” he added. “They paid to film George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm. They sponsored a European tour for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Why not help a German rock band write a power ballad to shred the iron curtain? And while the CIA closely guards its secrets, Patrick is one of the best investigative journalists and writers of his generation, and no one is better positioned to find out the truth.”
Spotify’s Head of Networking Liz Gateley said that the mix of cultural, political, and musical elements would “resonate” with its global audience. “Patrick’s decade-long investigation is filled with twists and turns, and the resounding cinematic quality of the narrative is captured by the dynamic music and interviews that are featured throughout the podcast,” she added.
You can listen to the trailer here or below.
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