Prompt 2: Heavy Metal & Cold War Cultural Politics
During the Cold War (1945-1991) the United States and the Soviet Union competed in every
imaginable arena from armed conflicts to space exploration as well as in the sphere of cultural
and ideology. Wind of Change is a podcast explores the role of the arts, especially music,
during the last moments of Cold War. Wind of Change takes its title from a power ballad by the
German metal band, The Scorpions. The song was a massive hit and many refer to it as the
soundtrack to the peaceful revolutions unfolding across Eastern Europe.
The podcast explores a rumor that the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) wrote the
song Wind of Change as part of an influence campaign to help topple the Soviet Union. The
podcast explores the role of the CIA in the cultural front of the Cold War as well as the power of
music as force for social change on the grassroots level.
Keeping in mind our discussion of the Cold War and media as well as our larger discussion of
the arts and politics, your job in your essay will be to analyze how this podcast defines the role
of the arts in their political contexts. As you listen, take note of how the podcast host changes
his mind as he learns more about the story he’s trying to clarify.
Listen to all 8 episodes and as you listen consider the following questions:
1) What role did culture play in the Cold War? What about music in particular?
2) What did rock music represent for people living in the Soviet Union? How do they
view the Scorpions and the song Wind of Change?
3) In episode 7, there is an exchange between the host and source of his in Russia
where he explains the rumor he heard. Pay attention to her response and how it may
apply to our current political climate and relationship with Russia.
4) Is there music that spoke to you in a profound way during a challenging or important
part of your life? How does it compare to the way Wind of Change spoke to young
people in the Soviet Union?
As you listen take notes. Jot down specific aspects of the episodes that interest you or stand
out. These will help guide your essay. Don’t be afraid to pause and rewind to make sure you
wrote down how a specific moment struck you.
Your essay should deal with the questions: what is the role of popular music in global politics?
Does this podcast make your reconsider your relationship to pop music? Does it matter who
was responsible for the song Wind of Change? Why or why not? Use the questions above to
guide your essay, you do not need to address all of them, but you must engage with at least one
of them in the body of your essay. I want to hear what YOU thought of the podcast, so please
just make use of our class materials about the Cold War to help support your analysis and
interpretation of the podcast.
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