Ryan Adams revealed to NME how he wrote this moody rocker. "I came up with the idea of these false starts on guitar, which is kinda AC/DC," he explained. "That juxtaposition is weird, but I imagine it in my mind as being like 'this is Prince, but this is Prince with a couple of Les Pauls. From the first taste of it I was like, 'this is rad'."
The song is a conflicted look at a failing relationship, most likely inspired by Adams' very public divorce from Mandy Moore: "I think it's direct, but I think there's subtext in it. I think that there are two ways of looking at it: 'if you have to ask' [is one], but then there are all these indicators of stuff never being resolved," he said. "Resolution is a way of saying that you have decided to stop participating in act of feeling. I like the idea that I ask a question in the chorus but then I talk about an effect in the verse."
Adams added: "I didn't feel connected to it the way that I do now. It wasn't until I tried to play it myself on acoustic guitar, because I wrote it myself on an electric guitar with my bros around. When I first played it by myself a little later I was like 'this is a completely different thing than I thought."
There was a rumor in the Soviet Union that The Beatles had secretly visited the U.S.S.R. and given a private concert for the children of top Communist party members. They believed the song "Back In The U.S.S.R." was written because of the concert. Actually, some fans still believe so.