Back In The US was a souvenir of Paul McCartney’s Driving USA Tour in spring 2002, his first full tour in almost a decade.
McCartney’s Driving World Tour began on 1 April 2002 in Oakland, California, and ended on 18 November in Osaka, Japan. It was to promote his 2001 album Driving Rain, which had sold relatively poorly.
The tour was McCartney’s first since the deaths of his wife Linda and his Beatles bandmate George Harrison, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks in America.
McCartney’s musical director for the tour was his long-term collaborator, keyboard player Paul ‘Wix’ Wickens. Joining his live band were guitarist Rusty Anderson and drummer Abe Laboriel Jr, both of whom had performed on Driving Rain.
Completing the touring band was guitarist Brian Ray. The four musicians subsequently became permanent members of McCartney’s backing band, both live and in the studio.
The tour was a critical and commercial success, and helped Driving Rain achieve gold status six months after its release. The first leg of the tour – 27 concerts in 25 cities to over 400,000 people – saw many shows selling out within minutes of going on sale. The only non-US date of the Driving USA Tour was on 13 April 2002 in Toronto, Canada.
The double CD Back In The US was recorded at concerts in Detroit, Dallas, Cleveland, Denver, New York City, Chicago, Sunrise FL, Boston, Tampa, Toronto, Washington DC, East Rutherford NJ, and Atlanta.
The tour setlist, and the resulting album, delved deeply into McCartney’s Beatles songbook, as well as songs by Wings, and tracks from throughout McCartney’s solo career. He paid tribute to George Harrison with a version of ‘Something’ played on a ukulele, which remained in his set for future tours. The set also included McCartney’s tribute to John Lennon, ‘Here Today’.
Back In The US generated some controversy upon its release due to Paul McCartney’s decision to amend the songwriting credits of his Beatles compositions to say “Paul McCartney and John Lennon” rather than the traditional “Lennon-McCartney”. His attempt to display “McCartney-Lennon” as a credit during the Anthology project had previously been vetoed by George Harrison and Ringo Starr.
McCartney’s decision was reportedly in response to Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, dropping the Lennon-McCartney credit for ‘Give Peace A Chance’ on the 1997 compilation Lennon Legend, despite that song having had no involvement from McCartney.
This was not the first time the Beatles credits had been changed. On the 1976 live album Wings Over America, the collaborations were credited to McCartney-Lennon, which had drawn no objection from Lennon.
The changed credits on Back In The US nonetheless angered Ono, who threatened to take legal action to have the Lennon-McCartney credit restored. However, the songs were credited once again to “Paul McCartney and John Lennon” on Back In The World the following year.
Back In The US was released in the USA and Japan on 11 November 2002, followed in March 2003 by an international version, Back In The World.
The album entered the US Billboard 200 at number eight, with first-week sales of 224,000 copies, and charted at number four on the Japanese Oricon Albums Chart.
In Best Buy stores, the album was sold with a bonus DVD single of ‘Matchbox’.
A companion DVD was released, also titled Back In The US, with a slightly amended tracklisting and backstage footage. When played on a computer, the DVD gave access to a restricted section of McCartney’s website which contained soundcheck footage recorded on 16 December 2002. The material has since been bootlegged as The Secret Website Show.
I don’t get all the controversy about Paul wanting to change the credit order for his Beatles songs to either McCartney-Lennon or dropping John’s name from the credits altogether, especially if these were songs that Paul wrote more or less all by himself and John made little, if any, contributions to the writing that were deemed sufficient to warrant the joint credit.
Paul has the right to change the writing credits for his songs if he wants to and what most people don’t realize is that John stated in his final interview, the Lennon/McCartney credit was never legally obligated, but rather, it was an unwritten agreement between him and Paul when they were teenagers and there is no evidence of any unwritten agreement between them to keep the credit order that way.
Furthermore, Mark Lewisohn found a tape recording of a 1969 meeting between John, Paul and George (Ringo was in hospital) to discuss the possibility of recording a follow-up to “Abbey Road” and John was the one who suggested that not only should he, Paul and George get four songs apiece, but also two for Ringo if he wanted them and John himself wanted to abolish the futile and misleading Lennon/McCartney altogether in favour of crediting his and Paul’s songs individually.