“Back in the U.S.S.R.“ is a song by the English rock band the Beatles that opens their 1968 double album The Beatles….which is also known as the “White Album”….which was written by Paul McCartney and credited to the Lennon–McCartney songwriting partnership….as the song is in the rock and roll style and is a parody of Chuck Berry’s “Back in the U.S.A.” ….and the Beach Boys’ “California Girls”. The lyrics transpose Berry’s patriotic sentiments about the United States to Communist Russia…. as the narrator expresses his relief at returning home to the Soviet Union….or more formally the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The song opens and closes with the sound of a jet aircraft landing on a runway….while the bridge sections feature backing vocals in the style of the Beach Boys….and lyrics celebrating the girls from various locations in the USSR.
The Beatles recorded “Back in the U.S.S.R.” as a three-piece after Ringo Starr temporarily left the group out of protest at McCartney’s criticism of his drumming and the tensions that typified the sessions for the White Album. The song’s release took place six months after the Warsaw Pact’s invasion of Czechoslovakia….and its sympathetic portrayal of the USSR prompted condemnation from both the New Left and the Right in the West. In 1969, the song was released on a single in Scandinavia….then in 1976, backed by “Twist and Shout”, it was issued as a single to promote the compilation album Rock ‘n’ Roll Music….as it peaked at # 19 on the UK Singles Chart and # 11 in Ireland.
In 2003, following the fall of Communism in Europe, McCartney performed the song in Moscow’s Red Square. Elton John (as seen in this video herewith) and Billy Joel have also released versions of the song recorded during their respective tours and concerts in Russia.