Thursday, March 1, 2012

Week Twenty of the Countdown to BIFF

The BIFF Countdown Continues . . .
This weeks choice, "99 Red Balloons", was suggested by Mr. BIFF himself - -  that is Tory Davis (Owner and operator of The Wayne Theater). It is just about the most fun tune that one can find about nuclear war.

Nena's real name is Gabriela Kerner and prior to forming her own group, she was a member of a band called The Stripes. In 1981 she and a boyfriend moved to West Berlin and there formed her band, Nena. Guitarist, Carlo Karges, got the idea for this song from seeing balloons being released at a Rolling Stones concert. He wrote the lyrics and Nena's keyboard player, Uwe Fahrenkrog-Peterson, wrote the music. Of course the original version was in German: 99 Luftballoons (1983).

The story song tells of Nena and the listener purchasing 99 balloons in a shop and letting them go up into the sky. The balloons show up on radar as unidentified objects, and both the Soviets and West Germany scramble planes, go to full alert, and prepare to counteract a perceived nuclear attack! Remember at that time the Cold War was still in place (The Berlin Wall did not fall until Nov. 1989), and West Germans were living in the shadow of weapons pointing east and west, weapons built-up between the Soviet Union and NATO.

Frankly it’s fun to dance to the unknown when facing apocalyptic war, right? 

99 Red Balloons (1984) by Nena

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 as 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 super hero
Everyone's a Captain Kirk
With orders to identify
To clarify, and classify
Scramble in the summer sky
99 red balloons go by

99 dreams I have had
In every one a red balloon
It's all over and I'm standing pretty
In this dust that was a city
If 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

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