Back In The US was recorded in April and May, at shows in the USA and Canada. Afterwards there was a four-month break in touring, before it resumed in September through to November with concerts in the USA, Mexico and Japan.
The tour was in support of McCartney’s 2002 album Driving Rain. The September-October US leg of the tour was known as Back In The US, while the three Mexican and five Japanese dates were known as Driving Mexico and Driving Japan respectively.
On all the dates McCartney reached deeply into his songwriting past, with songs originally recorded by The Beatles, Wings, and in his lengthy solo career.
The tour’s musical director was McCartney’s 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, and second guitarist Brian Ray. The four musicians subsequently became permanent members of McCartney’s live and studio backing band.
The double-disc Back In The World contained a similar tracklisting to Back In The US, with some exceptions. ‘Vanilla Sky’, ‘C Moon’, and ‘Freedom’ were all dropped, and replaced with versions of ‘Calico Skies’, ‘Michelle’, ‘Let ’Em In’, and ‘She’s Leaving Home’. Furthermore, the version of ‘Hey Jude’ was recorded in Mexico, rather than New York City.
Paul McCartney had created some controversy with Back In The US by deciding to change the songwriting credits of his Beatles compositions to say “Paul McCartney and John Lennon” rather than the traditional “Lennon-McCartney”. This was reportedly a 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.
It was noted at the time that the 1976 live album Wings Over America credited the collaborations 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. McCartney was undeterred, however, and retained the “Paul McCartney and John Lennon” credit on Back In The World.
Back In The World was released on 17 March 2003.
In the United Kingdom it peaked at number five, becoming far more successful than Driving Rain. It spent a total of 13 weeks on the UK albums chart.
The album also reached number six in Denmark, and was a top 20 hit in Austria, Finland, and Sweden.
Back In The World featured front and back cover photography by Mark Seliger. The CD came with a 32 page booklet, with additional photographs by Bill Bernstein.