Wind of Change (Scorpions song)

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"Wind of Change"
Artwork used for most European releases
Single by Scorpions
from the album Crazy World
B-side"Restless Nights"
Released21 January 1991 (1991-01-21)[1]
  • 5:13 (album version)
  • 3:44 (radio edit)
Songwriter(s)Klaus Meine
Scorpions singles chronology
"Don't Believe Her"
"Wind of Change"
"Send Me an Angel"
Music video
"Wind of Change" on YouTube

"Wind of Change" is a song by West German rock band Scorpions, recorded for their eleventh studio album Crazy World (1990). A power ballad,[3] it was composed and written by the band's lead singer Klaus Meine and produced by Keith Olsen and the band. The lyrics were composed by Meine following the band's visit to the Soviet Union at the height of perestroika, when the enmity between the communist and capitalist blocs subsided concurrently with the promulgation of large-scale socioeconomic reforms in the Soviet Union.

"Wind of Change" was released as the album's third single on 21 January 1991 and became a worldwide hit, just after the failed coup that would eventually lead to the end of the Soviet Union. The song topped the charts in Germany and across Europe and peaked at number four in the United States and at number two in the United Kingdom. It later appeared on the band's 1995 live album Live Bites, their 2000 album with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Moment of Glory, and on their 2001 "unplugged" album Acoustica. The band also recorded a Russian-language version of the song, under the title "Ветер перемен" ("Veter Peremen")[4] and a Spanish version called "Viento de Cambio”.

With estimated sales of 14 million copies sold worldwide, "Wind of Change" is one of the best-selling singles of all time.[5] It holds the record for the best-selling single by a German artist. The band presented a gold record and $70,000 of royalties from the single to Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991, with Soviet news sources claiming the money would be allocated to children's hospitals.[6]

Background and writing[edit]

Klaus Meine said in an interview that the time 1988/1989 in the Soviet Union was characterized by the mood that the Cold War was coming to an end, the music was the unifying factor for the people.[7] The memories of this time are also transported in the music video for the song.[8] Meine was inspired by his participation in the Moscow Music Peace Festival on 13 August 1989, at Lenin Stadium, where the Scorpions performed in front of about 300,000 fans:[3][9]

Die Idee dazu ist mir in der U.d.S.S.R. gekommen, als ich in einer Sommernacht im Gorki Park Center saß und auf die Moskwa geblickt habe. Das Lied ist meine persönliche Aufarbeitung dessen, was in den letzten Jahren in der Welt passiert ist.

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.

— Klaus Meine, Friede, Freude, Hasch und Perestroika, in: Rocks. Das Magazin für Classic Rock, Heft 01.2014, S. 88

Meine referred to the music center in Gorky Park, founded by Stas Namin from the eponymous rock band Gorky Park.[10] The lyrics celebrate glasnost in the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War, and speak of hope at a time when tense conditions had arisen due to the fall of Communist-run governments among Eastern Bloc nations beginning in 1989.[3] The opening lines refer to the city of Moscow's landmarks:

I follow the Moskva
Down to Gorky Park
Listening to the wind of change

The Moskva is the name of the river that runs through Moscow (both the city and the river are named identically in Russian), and Gorky Park is an urban park in Moscow named after the writer Maxim Gorky. The song also contains a reference to the balalaika, which is a Russian triangular stringed instrument somewhat like a guitar. The balalaika is mentioned in the following lines:

Let your balalaika sing
What my guitar wants to say

Klaus Meine and Rudolf Schenker are owners of the trade mark Wind of Change.[11]


"Wind of Change" opens with a clean guitar introduction played by Matthias Jabs, which is played alongside Klaus Meine's flat whistle.[12] The song's guitar solo is played by Rudolf Schenker.[citation needed]

Claim of CIA creative input[edit]

The song is the subject of the Pineapple Street Studios podcast Wind of Change, released 11 May 2020, which raises questions regarding the song's origin.[13][14][15] Patrick Radden Keefe, the New Yorker author and host of the podcast investigates the allegation that the song was written by or connected to the Central Intelligence Agency, citing a rumor originating allegedly from inside the agency. In a Sirius XM interview with Eddie Trunk on 13 May 2020, Meine stated "It's a fascinating idea, and it's an entertaining idea, but it's not true at all".[16][17] In December 2020, it was reported that a further investigation of the song's origins based on the claims from the podcast will be adapted into a series for Hulu directed by Alex Karpovsky.[18]


The song became associated with the Revolutions of 1989 and the Fall of the Berlin Wall also in 1989 and was performed by the Scorpions at the Brandenburg Gate on 9 November 1999, during the 10th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.[19][20] In 2005, viewers of the German television network ZDF chose this song as the song of the century.[3] "Wind of Change" is featured in the films In Search of a Midnight Kiss (2007), Gentlemen Broncos (2009), The Interview (2014), Love Island (2014) and I.S.S. (film) (2024), and the video game SingStar Rocks! (2006). The song can be heard in the opening scene of the action comedy film The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018). The song is also featured in television shows Melrose Place, Chuck, and Car Share and Nutri Ventures parody version.[21]

As of 2022, the Scorpions still perform the song live but with lyrical changes in light of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. The opening lines are changed to "Now listen to my heart / It says Ukrainia, waiting for the wind to change." Meine stated, "It's not the time with this terrible war in Ukraine raging on, it's not the time to romanticize Russia."[22]

In February 2023, the official music video hit one billion views on YouTube.[23]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, they collaborated with Japanese rock star Yoshiki to perform "Wind of Change" for the documentary film Yoshiki: Under the Sky.[24] This was the first time the band came together to perform the Ukraine version of the song.[25] The performance was later released as a music video on YouTube.[26]

Track listings[edit]


Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[62] Gold 35,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[63] Platinum 50,000*
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[64] Gold 30,000
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[65] Platinum 90,000
France (SNEP)[66] Gold 400,000*
Germany (BVMI)[67] Platinum 500,000^
Italy (FIMI)[68]
sales since 2009
Platinum 70,000
Russia (NFPF)[69]
Gold 100,000*
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[70] Platinum 60,000
United Kingdom (BPI)[71] Gold 400,000
United States (RIAA)[72] Gold 500,000^

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format(s) Label(s) Ref.
Europe 21 January 1991 7-inch vinyl Mercury [1]
United Kingdom 20 May 1991
  • 7-inch vinyl
  • 12-inch vinyl
  • CD
Vertigo [73]
24 June 1991 Cassette [74]
United Kingdom (re-release) 16 September 1991
  • 7-inch vinyl
  • 12-inch vinyl
  • CD
  • cassette
Japan 25 October 1991 Mini-CD Mercury [76]

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ Cochrane, Greg (14 December 2020). "The best new podcasts of 2020". NME. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d Bienstock, Richard (2 September 2015). "Scorpions' 'Wind of Change': The Oral History". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 1 October 2023.
  4. ^ "Scorpions - Ветер перемен [Wind of Change] (Russian Version)". Retrieved 24 May 2022 – via YouTube.
  5. ^ "SCORPIONS: WIND OF CHANGE Der Wende-Hit". Hamburger Abendblatt. 2 October 2009. Retrieved 23 August 2016. Von Jana-Sophie Brasseler 02.10.09
  6. ^ Bregestovski, Anton (15 December 1991). "Rock group meet Gorbachev". Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  7. ^ SWR Online: Die „Scorpions" — Deutschlands erfolgreichster Rockexport[permanent dead link]; the interview could be heard on 14 May 2010 in SWR1 Leute (Baden-Wuerttemberg).
  8. ^ "Wind of Change". Archived from the original on 13 November 2006. Retrieved 30 June 2022.
  9. ^ Und jetzt alle zusammen!, einestages vom 6. Oktober 2010
  10. ^ Pristed, Birgitte Beck (1 August 2017). The New Russian Book: A Graphic Cultural History. Springer. p. 187. ISBN 978-3-319-50708-8.
  11. ^ "Trademark information for Wind Of Change from CTM – by Markify". 12 December 2013. Archived from the original on 12 December 2013. Retrieved 24 May 2022.
  12. ^ "Musikalischer Exportschlager". 17 February 2009.
  13. ^ "Did the CIA write a power ballad that ended the Cold War?". Crooked Media. 11 May 2020. Retrieved 7 September 2021.
  14. ^ Marks, Andrea (14 July 2020). "Could the CIA Have Planted Hair-Metal Propaganda During the Cold War?". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 9 February 2021.
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  17. ^ "Scorpions singer Klaus Meine ended up the rumors that 'WInd of Change' was written by CIA". 14 May 2020. Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  18. ^ White, Peter (16 December 2020). "Hulu Lands TV Adaptation Of Rock 'N' Roll Spy Podcast 'Wind of Change'". Deadline. Retrieved 20 December 2020.
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External links[edit]