Well, folks, it appears to be coming to pass: in conjunction with my next book, Seven Events that Made America America, we have finalized a documentary film project called “Rockin’ the Wall.” It is the story of how American rock helped bring down the Berlin Wall.
Obviously, Ronald Reagan—and several other administrations that stood strong in the face of communism—played the central role. No doubt. But there is an untold story about rock’s part in eroding communism, in stimulating the thirst for freedom, and Soviet Bloc rockers slowly but surely “bucked the system.”
Some reactions by the Communists were predictable: in the USSR, the government actually set up a . . . Ministry of Rock. Doesn’t that sound like something a commie would do? And of course, the music that came out of this “gubment”-run shop was junk. However, because this and other East Bloc agencies controlled food coupons or rent vouchers, rockers often faced the challenge of playing what they wanted and starving, or playing what “the man” said and being fed and housed. Some were jailed; others had their concerts broken up.
One of the most important bands, a Czech group called “Plastic People of the Universe,” was anything but “acid-rock,” often appearing with flutes and woodwinds accompanying their guitars. But the messages grew stronger. Solidarity banners began to appear at Polish concerts. American and British rockers played numerous concerts behind the Iron Curtain, sometimes censoring their lyrics as demanded, other times not.
We begin filming in a few weeks. The director is Marc Leif, who has done a number of documentaries and is an in-demand editor in Hollywood who has just wrapped a new Christmas movie and before that did “Witless Protection” with Larry the Cable Guy. Our story is compelling, the music memorable and powerful, and the event significant. We think it will be the first of many great documentaries to come from Seven Events.