Back in the U.S.S.R.
Cultural Ambassadors in the Cold War
"Back in the USSR" was the first song on the Beatles' 1968 White Album. Written as a parody of an earlier Chuck Berry song, the goal was to humanize the young people living behind the Iron Curtain. In 1988 Paul McCartney put together an official album of Beatles songs directed to his Soviet fans, and issued half a million copies. This was the biggest release by a foreign musician in the Soviet Union and the album sold out rapidly, staying in high demand on the black market. The cover of the album features a quote from McCartney which says: "In releasing this record made especially and exclusively for the USSR, I am extending a hand of peace and friendship to the Soviet people." The Beatles had a major effect in Russia during the time of the Cold War and the release of this album represents a perfect example of how musicians and their songs can influence people in difficult times. Russians were told stories about people in the West, and through the songs of the Beatles they realized that these were not reflecting reality. The Beatles became unintentional cultural ambassadors in times of conflict.