Nena – 99 Luftballons

This song was all over the place in 1984. Both the English and German versions were played and I liked the German version better…I thought it just flowed better than the English version. When I heard “Captain Kirk” I knew I liked it.

The German version went to #2 in the Billboard 100. The English version went to #1 in the UK and #1 in Canada.

From Songfacts.

This was released in Germany, where Nena was from. Their record company had no intention of releasing it in America until a disc jockey at radio station KROQ in Los Angeles found a copy and started playing it. They recorded an English version (the original words are in German, and yes, “Captain Kirk” in German is still “Captain Kirk”) with the title translated as “99 Red Balloons” and released it in the US, where it was a big hit.

Nena’s guitarist, Carlo Karges, got the idea for the song after watching balloons being released at a Rolling Stones concert in West Berlin. He wrote the lyrics and Nena’s keyboard player Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen wrote the music.

Below are both versions

99 Luftballoons

Do you have some time to myself
then I sing a song for you
99 balloons
on their way to the horizon

you might think g’rad me
Then I sing a song for you
99 balloons
And this does not come from something like

99 balloons
on their way to the horizon was
thought to be for space-based UFOs So
a General

‘Ne squadron sent an
alert after that if that were the case.
There were
only 99 air balloons

99 jet aviators
Everyone was a great warrior considered
themselves Captain Kirk
Es gave a big fireworks

The neighbors have not gathered
And you felt the same turned on
It shot on the horizon
On 99 Balloons

99 Minister of War
Match and jerry Can
for the clever people
Witterten already fat loot

Riefen, war and power
man, who would have thought
That it comes once
Because of 99 Balloons

Because 99 Balloons
99 balloons

99 years of war left
no room for victors
war minister’s no more
And no jet planes

Today I pull my laps
See the world in ruins
Have found a balloon
think of you and let him fly

Ninety-Nine Red Balloons

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
Ninety-nine red balloons go by

Ninety-nine 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 ninety-nine red balloons go by

Ninety-nine Decision Street
Ninety-nine 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 ninety-nine red balloons go by

Ninety-nine 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
Ninety-nine red balloons go by

As ninety-nine red balloons go by

Ninety-nine 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


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

10 thoughts on “Nena – 99 Luftballons”

  1. With “Der Komissar” and “Major Tom-Coming Home”, the triad of German 80s hits that crossed over. I give kudos to all 3 for being able to translate their lyrics into something halfways cohesive and logical sounding in English!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I too liked the German version better. I didn’t know the balloon reference came from the Stones concert. I took home a balloon from their 1981 concert in KC. I still remember watching the balloons falling from the ceiling at the end of the show.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wanted to see them in 81. I like the concert film of that tour… Let’s Spend the Night Together. I was too young to drive and they didn’t come here.


      1. They announced the KC date late in the tour, after a bunch of my friends had road tripped to Denver or Dallas to see them. Then the KC show ended up being a big deal at the time, because of a surprise appearance of Mick Taylor on stage with them. I was just a clueless kid, but didn’t squander the bragging rights from that, haha. We thought the balloons were SO cool, and then I think about the concert gimmicks today, like confetti cannons and holograms. I still can’t believe 99 Luftballoons is about the Stones’ balloon drops. I love the song even more now.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Now I’m really jealous…Mick Taylor was with them through my favorite period. That tour was the last time they toured and didn’t use backup singers and a bunch of people with them…plus they had Bill Wyman.

        Yea I knew nothing about 99 Luftballoons before I wrote that.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Hogan’s Heroes…It’s been a while! I have a lot of sixties and seventies shows… many nights in our house it’s the 70s… Bob Newhart Show, Barney Miller etc…

        Liked by 1 person

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