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Back in the U.S.S.R.

"Back in the U.S.S.R." is a 1968 song by The Beatles (credited to the song writing partnership Lennon/McCartney but mainly written by Paul McCartney) which opens the double-disc album The Beatles, commonly referred to as The White Album. It segues into the next song on the album, "Dear Prudence".


The song, which opens and closes with the sounds of a jet aircraft landing, refers to a "dreadful" flight back to the U.S.S.R. from Miami Beach in the United States, on board a British B.O.A.C. aeroplane. Propelled throughout by McCartney's uptempo piano playing and lead guitar riffs, the lyrics tell of the singer's great happiness on returning home, where "the Ukraine girls really knock me out" and the "Moscow girls make me sing and shout" (and are invited to "Come and keep [their] comrade warm"). He also looks forward to hearing the sound of "balalaikas ringing out".

The title of the song is a tribute to Chuck Berry's "Back in the U.S.A." while the chorus pays homage to the Beach Boys' "California Girls." The song also contains a pun on Hoagy Carmichael's "Georgia on My Mind." McCartney is singing about the Soviet Republic of Georgia, whereas 'Georgia on My Mind' has been described as being about either or both of the state of Georgia in the U.S. or a woman named Georgia. McCartney thought that when he listened to the Beach Boys, it sounded like California, so he decided to write a song that "sounded" like the U.S.S.R.. The title was inspired in part by the "I'm Backing Britain" campaign which had been endorsed by British Prime Minister Harold Wilson. It has been suggested that McCartney twisted that into "I'm Back In (backin') the U.S.S.R."

In his 1984 interview with Playboy, McCartney said:

I wrote that as a kind of Beach Boys parody. And 'Back in the USA' was a Chuck Berry song, so it kinda took off from there. I just liked the idea of Georgia girls and talking about places like the Ukraine as if they were California, you know? It was also hands across the water, which I'm still conscious of. 'Cuz they like us out there, even though the bosses in the Kremlin may not. The kids do. And that to me is very important for the future of the race.

"Back in the U.S.S.R." was released by Parlophone as a single in the UK in 1976. It featured the song "Twist and Shout" on Side B.

Problems in the band

The "White Album" sessions allowed the four members to work on separate projects at the same time and, as a result, kept tensions to a minimum. However, tempers flared during the recording session on 22 August 1968, and Ringo Starr walked out and announced that he had quit.

"Back in the U.S.S.R." and "Dear Prudence", the first two tracks of the album, were recorded without Starr, with McCartney primarily responsible for the drum parts. McCartney's drums are most prominent in the mix, but both John Lennon and George Harrison recorded drum tracks for the song; these are audible in the left channel of the stereo mix.

Starr returned to the group a week later on 4 September 1968 when he participated in the filming of promotional videos for "Hey Jude" and "Revolution". The first subsequent recording session was on 5 September for "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."


Credits per Ian MacDonald and Mark Lewisohn.

Cover versions


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