Covid Island Discs

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Day 44: 99 Luftballons, Nena

I end my one hit wonder strange song theme with this very sobering offering. This song was written at a time when we feared the world could end in a nuclear holocaust. Here is its background (taken from Wikipedia): The lyrics of the original German version tell a story: 99 balloons are set free and are mistaken for UFOs, causing a general to send pilots to investigate. Finding nothing but balloons, the pilots put on a large show of fire power. The display of force worries the nations along the borders and the war ministers on each side bang the drums of conflict to grab power for themselves. In the end, a cataclysmic war results from the otherwise harmless flight of balloons and causes devastation on all sides without a victor, as indicated in the denouement of the song: “99 Jahre Krieg lieβen keinen Platz für Sieger,” which translates as, “99 years of war have left no place for winners.” The anti-war song finishes with the singer walking through the devastated ruins of the world and finding a balloon. The description of what happens in the final line of the piece is the same in German and English: “Denk ‘an dich und lass’ ihn fliegen,” or “I think of you and let it go.

Thankfully, the end of the 80s turned out to be a time of great political change in the right direction with the collapse of the iron curtain and the fall of the Berlin wall. While it was good that the evils of communism fell in the East, it created a false narrative that all forms of capitalism were equally good because none were as bad as the system that so radically failed in the former Soviet Union. Similarly socialism appeared to become forever linked with communism. While I fully agree there is a form of capitalism that is superior to socialism, that form has been subsumed by an extreme version of neo-liberal capitalism which is not sustainable for the remainder of this century.

Let’s hope this terrible virus helps us to make the urgent corrections that are required to our capitalist economies for the sake of the vast majority of adults on this planet and their children.

My Video Summary

If you click on the Playlist Video for Week 7 (top right of this page) you will be taken to a single video which allows you to play each song in this week's list one after the other. Alternatively, if you watch my own video summary below of this week's songs at the end of the video two playlist links will appear. The one on the left hand side will take you to the video playlist for this week while the one on the right will take you to a single video playlist that allows you to play the complete Covid Island Discs collection for all the currently completed weeks so far — well over 200 songs and counting!

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Roderick Benson

This song bring back nice memories of living in the late 80s when the political situation in the world was looking more positive with the collapse of the Berlin and the reunification of East and West Germany.

Roderick Benson

Funny listening to this song in July 2022 and re-reading what I wrote make me realise how wrong I was about the former USSR. With Putin in charge we are probably as much in danger of a nuclear exchange as we were in the 1960s.

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