The internet has trustworthy moments and spaces, but you always have to move forward with a healthy dose of skepticism. Sometimes, though, a story is too good to ignore. Even if you doubt it, even if you have that understanding - you want it to be true because it’s far more entertaining than what is probably the boring truth, which is why I like podcasts so much. Many of it is some of the best stories being plucked out of the sea of humanity. People work to vet them, and it’s all put together in a great-sounding package. Sometimes I just scroll through podcasts submitted to me or suggested to me, and lately, I’ve been diving into Reddit, which is where I found Wind of Change.
Recently, I’ve been more interested in contemporary history. Things that have happened in my lifetime, or in the few decades just prior to me being born. Wind of Change covers some pre-Keelin events through the lens of rock music and perestroika.
From Pineapple Street Studios, Crooked Media, and Spotify came Wind of Change. Released in 2020 and part of Tribeca that year, this is a hypnotizing podcast full of spies, political intrigue, and cultural exchange. It knocked my socks off as a story and an example of a great podcast with atmosphere and ambiance.
Sometimes, stories get told at work. Sometimes you tell work stories to your non-work friends. Sometimes you happen to work at the CIA. So maybe your work stories are a little bit more fanciful, exciting, or intense. This story that started in the CIA and made its way out is that the 1989 hit “Wind of Change” by the band The Scorpions was actually written by the CIA as a psyops campaign.
It seemed almost too good to be true. “Wind of Change” was written and released only months before the Berlin Wall fell. It is notably out of character for the usual sound by The Scorpions and written by a member of the band that usually wasn’t the primary force behind the songwriting.
If you looked into it even a little bit, it seemed suspicious enough to be plausible. Cultural influence isn’t unknown to our modern covert ops campaigns. So, after ten years of looking into this story, our host Patrick Radden Keefe decided to make a podcast out of it and really explore the idea of the songwriting CIA. Across eight episodes that sit between 45 minutes and an hour, we are taken through a tangle of personalities, spies, and history that suddenly we can feel pulling at the strings of today.
This podcast is full of great design, and overall storytelling. Honestly, you know how exactly you get to talking about the largest drug bust in history - but it’s so wild and shocking. Halfway through this series, you might have to pause and wonder if you’re really still listening to a “fall of the USSR” story.
Wind of Change holds a unique power in that it gives you a lot to think about in current events. They say history repeats itself, but really I think history just has a longer reach than we think.
If you want a little bit of intrigue in your life - this podcast will definitely suit that. It’s also a great reminder of how music can be used as propaganda, intentionally or unintentionally.
Listen to Wind of Change here
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