Monday, February 14, 2005


"99 Luftballoons"

German Release 1983, US Release 1984

You and I in a little toy shop
Buy a bag of balloons with the money we've got
Set them free at the break of dawn
Til one by one they were gone
Back at base, bugs in the software
Flash the message, something's out there
Floating in the summer sky
99 red balloons go by

99 red balloons
Floating in the summer sky
Panic bells, it's red alert
There's something here from somewhere else
The war machine springs to life
Opens up one eager eye
Focusing it on the sky
Where 99 red balloons go by

99 Decision Street
99 ministers meet
To worry, worry, super scurry
Call the troops out in a hurry
This is what we've waited for
This is it, boys, this is war
The president is on the line
As 99 red balloons go by

99 knights of the air
Ride super-high-tech jet fighters
Everyone's a superhero
Everyone's a Captain Kirk
With orders to identity
To clarify and classify
Scramble in the summer sky
As 99 red balloons go by

99 dreams I have had
And every one a red balloon
It's all over, and I'm standing pretty
In this dust that was a city
I could find a souvenir
Just to prove the world was here
And here is a red balloon
I think of you and let it go

A searing vision of World War II? A cool German language pop song in the mid 1980s? A nuclear protest song? A commentary on the cold war? A random pop song with a catchy melody and a driving beat? If you told me this song was any of these things I’d agree with you and/or respect your opinion. If you told me I’d be watching TV on a Sunday night and recognize a cheezy muzak version of it in a JC Penney commercial I would have asked you what you were smoking, (and then probably asked you if I could have some too but that’s not really the point of this), because the idea is that insane to me.

It’s like hearing The Weight* in wireless commercials or the infamous sale of Sting’s soul to Jaguar. It just doesn’t belong there. I guess if something is truly great then the temptation to bastardize it and sell it out at some point always wins out over just allowing it to stand on its own.

*1968, The Band, Music From Big Pink


Blogger Nuance said...

I gave up all hope when Disney cruises started using a heroin junkie's song about a male prostitute to sell family vacations. After that, nothing else seems real.

As for Sting, pop's most sanctimonious windbag, he never had a soul to sell...or lease.

4:37 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I missed that. What's in the Disney cruise commercials?

9:38 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

I don't know - I start laughing every time someone tries selling something to the tune of Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life". (That is what you're referring to, isn't it, Ran?)

11:28 PM  
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6:35 PM  

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