Sir Paul McCartney axes Beatles hit song Back in the USSR from all live shows
Nyet It Be... Sir Paul McCartney is making a stand over Russia ’s invasion of Ukraine – by ditching classic Beatles song Back in the U.S.S.R from his gigs.
It will be missing from all his shows for the foreseeable future, including his headline performance at the Glastonbury Festival next Saturday.
A source said: “The song is such a massive crowd favourite but with the horrors unfolding in Ukraine, it was a simple decision by Paul to make.
“It would be perverse to be singing a jaunty rock’n’roll song about Russia.
“Paul couldn’t in all conscience sing those lyrics when so many are being brutally massacred at the hands of Russia.” The song, written by Macca in 1968, is about a Russian spy returning home from America.
The lyrics include the line “and Moscow girls make me sing and shout”.
It is the sixth most frequently played song at his shows behind Let It Be, Hey Jude, Band on the Run, Live and Let Die, and Lady Madonna.
Back in the U.S.S.R has featured at all of Sir Paul’s previous solo tours dating back to 1989.
But the song was not played at any of his recent dates in the US which ended on Thursday night.
Beatles legend Sir Paul, who turns 80 today, waved a Ukrainian flag on stage during his run of shows in America.
He said in February shortly after Russia launched the invasion: “Remembering playing for our friends in Ukraine in Independence Square [in the capital Kyiv] in 2008 and thinking of them in these difficult times. We send our love and support.”
Macca usually plays the song just before the encore alongside Let It Be, Live and Let Die, and Hey Jude.
Sir Paul wrote the song while the Beatles were meditating in India.
Macca conceived it as a parody of Chuck Berry track Back in the USA, with a nod to the Beach Boys’ classic hit California Girls.
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Being about the Soviet Union, it includes the lines: “Well, the Ukraine girls really knock me out/They leave the West behind.”
The lyrics also include: “Oh, show me round your snow-peaked mountains way down south/Take me to your daddy’s farm/Let me hear your balalaikas ringing out/Come and keep your comrade warm.”
The song sparked anger in the US at the time as it was seen as celebrating the enemy during the Cold War – especially as it was released months after Warsaw Pact countries, including the Soviet Union, invaded Czechoslovakia.
Some accused the Beatles of being Communist sympathisers, although the group were banned in the Soviet Union.
Sir Paul once said: “Probably my most important reason for going to Russia would be to play Back in the U.S.S.R.”
The song went down a storm in Red Square in Moscow in 2003 when he finally got to perform it in the nation.
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