“Back in the U.S.S.R.” – The Beatles (1968)

“‘Back in the U.S.S.R.’ is a song by the English rock band the Beatles and the first track of the 1968 double album The Beatles (also known as the ‘White Album’). Written by Paul McCartney and credited to the Lennon–McCartney partnership, the song is a parody of Chuck Berry‘s ‘Back in the U.S.A.‘ and the Beach Boys‘ ‘California Girls‘. The lyrics subvert Berry’s patriotic sentiments about the United States, as the narrator expresses relief upon returning home to the Soviet Union, formally the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The Beatles recorded ‘Back in the U.S.S.R.’ as a three-piece after Ringo Starr temporarily left the group, in protest at McCartney’s criticism of his drumming and the tensions that typified the sessions for the White Album. Instead, the other Beatles created a composite drum track from numerous takes. McCartney’s singing was based on Jerry Lee Lewis, while the bridge features a Beach Boys-style celebration of girls from various parts of the USSR. The song opens and closes with a tape loop of an aircraft landing on a runway. Released six months after the Warsaw Pact’s invasion of Czechoslovakia, the normalized portrayal of the USSR prompted condemnation in the West from both the New Left and the political right. … In his lyrics, McCartney transposed the patriotism of Berry’s song into a Soviet context. He said that he intended it to be a ‘spoof’ on the typical American international traveller’s contention that ‘it’s just so much better back home’ and their yearning for the comforts of their homeland. McCartney said that, despite the lack of such luxuries in the USSR, his Soviet traveller would ‘still be every bit as proud as an American would be’. According to author Michael Gray, ‘Back in the U.S.S.R.’ was the Beatles’ sardonic comment on Berry’s idealised Americana, which had become ‘deeply unfashionable’ by the late 1960s.  ‘Back in the U.S.S.R.’ opens and closes with the sound of a jet aircraft landing on a runway. The effect also appears partway through the recording and represents an ‘aural cartoon’, according to music critic Tim Riley, who says the song is ‘offered as a hoot and delivered as such’. The opening lyrics refer to a ‘dreadful’ flight back to the USSR from Miami Beach in the United States, on board a BOAC airliner. …”
‘Back In The USSR’: The Story Behind The Beatles’ Song (Video)

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