Tag Archives: portest march

How Many Balloons?

18 Feb

The 70’s had Ban The Bomb and the 80’s No Nukes.  This was the height of the cold war with Ronald Reagan leading the pack of  “Hawks” on both sides.  The former Soviet Union was still under harsh communist rule with a quick succession of leaders in the early 80’s before Mikail Gorbachev came to power in 1985.  Gorbachev, best remembered  for his birth mark resembling a map of southeast Asia could be described as a “Dove” in comparison to his predessors and Reagan.


The  80’s saw mass protest marches on both sides of the US/Canadian border and across the pond, Western Europe joined the No Nuke movement  as they were in the fallout zone between the States and the  USSR.  Major cities across North America experienced crowds of  100,ooo people, the largest crowds since the Vietnam War.  Even conservative cities like Toronto had protest marches topping 100,000 people, complete with the RCMP filming the crowd.  I was convinced for years that CISIS had a file with my picture in Ottawa for taking part in peace marches and various protests, as I was a semi regular on the circuit. 


The big difference this time is the protestors cut across all demographics and once again musical genres.  Just like in the 60’s music played a big part in the No Nukes movement.  Springsteen, Jacksone Brown, the Doobies, Tom Petty, Carly Simon and Crosby, Stills and Nash were outspoken playing a number of concerts supporting Nuclear Disarmament.  The 80’s were the last decade to produce top bands with commercial hit political protest songs.  Rap was just begining to appear but it’s protest was directed more internally than outward.   Probally the biggest hit that personified the  80’s No Nuke movement was Germanys,  Nena with  “99 Luftballons”.  Originally sung in German, 1983, it became an international hit when re-recorded in English in 1984.  The 83 live video consisting of only the band is raw and commonly believed to be a truer song.  By 1984 MTV was in full bloom and the band got the TV video treatment.  For the most part this was her only success outside of Germany even though she has officially released over 29 albulms, 48 singles and featured in 8 films.  The song is still played often, played for an hour straight on MTV classic during a 2006 Huricane Catrina fundraiser as a donor gave $35,000 for the privledge and Nena herself  re-recorded the original in 2000.  I have included the original German version for you.



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