The Scorpions’ song “Wind of Change” came out in 1990 and while most people probably loved it for it’s political sentiment and the fact that it gave a new face to a band that was, up until that point, best known for rocking us all like a hurricane, in this writer’s humble opinion, the best part is the whistling. Sure, Axl tried it too on “Patience,” but he didn’t kick the song off with it. And now, we find out that the whistling almost didn’t make it in to the song at all. In Rolling Stone’s recent oral history of “Wind of Change,” the band revealed the real story behind the song’s legacy and and the whistle that almost never was:
Klaus Meine [vocals]: At least some of the words and the melody and the whole structure of the song came out pretty quick. And the beginning melody, I guess I just whistled my way through it because, I mean, I play guitar, but I’m not a lead guitarist. So I was just whistling and it went down pretty cool. I played it for the guys, and they liked the song but they were not so sure about this whistling part.
Rudolf Schenker [guitar]: Well, you know, rock & roll and whistling…
Keith Olsen [producer]: That intro was supposed to be a guitar motif. The melody was established. And we tried it with guitars, we tried it with clean guitars, we tried it on a keyboard. But in the end, it was one of those things where it just worked with the whistle. Klaus said, “Well, this is how I first wrote it, and this was the first initial feeling.” So I said, “Then just do it again.” So he did the whistle a bunch of times and I comp’d together a perfect one. And it worked. It really worked. I loved it.
Schenker: The record company came and said, “You know, guys, the song ’Wind of Change,’ it’s great… but maybe you can cut the whistling out?'” And we tried it a few different ways, but we noticed immediately that when the whistling was out of the song, the song lost something.
Doc McGhee: It was actually someone in my office who was talking to the record company, and the guys there were saying, “They gotta get the whistling out.” I went, “You’re crazy! You can’t get the whistling out.” It was just as much of a hook as anything in the song…
Schenker: So we said, “F-ck it! We keep the whistling.”
And without that conviction and commitment, we wouldn’t have just spent an hour finding cover versions — some more struggle than others — of the classic whistle that ended the Cold War.*