Tear Me Down: Five Songs About The Berlin Wall

Categories: Lists, Miles-tones

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Today is World Freedom Day! The holiday was declared in 2001 by George W. Bush to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall and just how awesome he felt Ronald Reagan was. It was 21 years ago today that East and West Berlin were reunited, and the Berlin Wall remains a source of musical inspiration even to this day. Here's our five favorite songs about the Berlin Wall.


5. "Tear Me Down," Hedwig and the Angry Inch

The wall between Communism and the freedom of the West plays an enormous role in John Cameron Mitchell's punk-rock opera. Born in East Berlin, Hedwig undergoes an botched sex change operation in order to marry an American G.I. and escape his oppressive community.

Now, neither fully woman nor man, Hedwig's music becomes centered around the lines that divide what was once fully whole. The heart-stopping opening number "Tear Me Down" sets the tone perfectly with a brief monologue in the bridge comparing Hedwig to the wall's fall.

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4. "Germany," Sloppy Seconds

For our money, Sloppy Second's Destroyed is the best punk album ever released. Amidst the odes to Traci Lords and pleas to not be gay are many songs of surprising emotional depth. One of those songs is "Germany," in which our protagonist steals all the money of his cheating girlfriend to fund a trip to Germany. He celebrates this act by surfing down the Rhine and spray painting her phone number on the Berlin Wall. He laments how much money she'll miss out on by not sleeping with Communists.


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3. "99 Luftballoons," Nena

At a 1982 Rolling Stones concert in Berlin, Nena's guitarist Carlo Karges watched a mass of balloons released. The balloons came together into various odd shapes, some of the seeming to form spacecrafts. Karges wondered aloud later what the reaction to seeing the balloons floating over the wall would be. Would the communists think they were under attack and unleash war?

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