Jonah’s post reminds me of when I was an exchange student in the Soviet Union. I particularly recall playing for my Russian room-mates the Beatles’ “Back in the USSR.”
The song puzzled them. “You mean he’s saying he’s glad he’s not back in the U.S.S.R.?” they asked me.
“No, on the contrary,” I replied. “He’s happy to be back in the U.S.S.R.”
“Oh, I see. Very good. And uh … why he is so happy to be back in the U.S.S.R.?”
“Well, you know, as he says: ‘Russian girls really knock me out. They leave the West behind. And Ukraine girls make me sing and shout. And Georgia’s always on my mind.’ “
“Oh. This song makes fun of Soviet Union, yes?”
“No, not really. It makes fun of Americans, of the Beach Boys, of California culture, of …”
At this point it was really time to have another tumbler of warm vodka (the dorm didn’t have ice) and sour pickles and change the subject.
And change the record too – to something like, “Hello Children! New People of the Fatherland!”
That was one of my favorites.