The Meaning Behind The Lyrics Of “Back in the USSR” by The Beatles

Advertisement

via @The Beat Goes On / YouTube

Advertisement
Advertisement

Nobody is irreplaceable. A maxim that should be remembered before letting ourselves be carried away by temperamental outbursts that we may later regret. On August 22, 1968, Ringo Starr had a monumental rebound with Paul and left the band. Apparently, McCartney had been criticizing his work and Ringo must have said something like, “So you don’t like the way I play drums? Well, do it yourself”, and he took the door in the middle of the recording sessions of The Beatles album, also called The White Album, and left. Paul, for his part, grabbed the drumsticks and recorded the percussion himself. With two well-placed.

Advertisement

He wasn’t the only one to make a dramatic exit; producer George Martin and sound engineer Geoff Emerick had slammed the door before Ringo, so things were hot, but hey, you know what they say: the show must go on! and John, George, and Paul continued recording as if nothing had happened. Ironically, most of the themes had been written during a three-month spiritual retreat, meditating at Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in Rishikesh, India. The asanas might have boosted their creativity (forty songs came out of it, no less), but they certainly hadn’t softened their character. Everyone was very tense and the appearance of Yoko Ono (yes, that one) around the studio did not contribute to the general good vibes.

It took them all day, well into the night, to finish the song, with McCartney on percussion, Harrison on electric guitar, and Lennon on the Fender Bass VI. Paul also leads the voices, “in the style of Jerry Lee Lewis” and Lennon and Harrison do the choirs in the style of the Beach Boys. One success was to insert the sound of a jet (Viscount Turbo) landing (or taking off) at the beginning and end of the song, which contributes to creating a “solid sonic wall”, in the words of the critic Ian McDonald.

“Back in the U.S.S.R.” It is neither more nor less than a parody of the well-known “Back in the USA”, by Chuck Berry, in which the American singer shows his satisfaction at returning to New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and, above all, to his home ” old St. Louis” (he had just returned from a tour of Australia). In addition, Mike Love, the singer of the Beach Boys with whom the boys from Liverpool had met at the yogic retreat in India (the place was all the rage that spring), had suggested to McCartney that he make some reference to Soviet girls, in the style in which they did it with the North Americans in “California Girls”. So, there we have the (three) Beatles singing about a Russian spy who returns home and is glad to see the Muscovites and Ukrainians welcoming him back with open arms. He is so happy that he even includes a line in which he sings that “Georgia is always on my mind” (he winks at the audience).