Song facts: Back in the USSR

On August 22nd 1968, Ringo Starr quit the Beatles amid the tension and bickering that surrounded the recording of The White Album. His departure from the group was kept quiet and he rejoined the Beatles on September 3rd. 

"I left because I felt two things: I felt I wasn't playing great, and I also felt that the other three were really happy and I was an outsider. I went to see John, who had been living in my apartment in Montagu Square with Yoko since he moved out of Kenwood. I said, 'I'm leaving the group because I'm not playing well and I feel unloved and out of it, and you three are really close.' And John said, 'I thought it was you three!'
So then I went over to Paul's and knocked on his door. I said the same thing: 'I'm leaving the band. I feel you three guys are really close and I'm out of it.' And Paul said, 'I thought it was you three!'
I didn't even bother going to George then. I said, 'I'm going on holiday.' I took the kids and we went to Sardinia." - Ringo Starr

Meanwhile the band had a song to record and no drummer. On this day they began recording Back in the USSR, with Paul McCartney playing drums in Ringo's stead.

The song was written by Paul while on retreat in India and became the opening track on The White Album.

"It's tongue in cheek. This is a travelling Russkie who has just flown in from Miami Beach; he's come the other way. He can't wait to get back to the Georgian mountains: 'Georgia's always on my mind'; there's all sorts of little jokes in it... I remember trying to sing it in my Jerry Lee Lewis voice, to get my mind set on a particular feeling. We added Beach Boys style harmonies." - Paul McCartney

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George Harrison and Ringo Starr take a break during the recording of the White Album, 1968.

George Harrison and Ringo Starr take a break during the recording of the White Album, 1968.

Paul McCartney in India, 1968.

Paul McCartney in India, 1968.

 

Personnel 

  • Paul McCartney – double-tracked vocal, backing vocal, bass, lead guitar, piano, handclaps, drums, percussion
  • John Lennon – backing vocal, lead guitar, six-string bass, handclaps, drums, percussion
  • George Harrison – backing vocal, lead guitar, bass, handclaps, drums, percussion
  • George Martin – piano

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