I Feel Fine

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"I Feel Fine"
Single by The Beatles
B-side"She's a Woman"
Released23 November 1964 (US)
27 November 1964 (UK)
Format7"
Recorded18 October 1964
EMI Studios, London[1]
GenreRock, rock and roll
Length2:25
LabelCapitol 5327 (US)
Parlophone R5200 (UK)
Writer(s)Lennon–McCartney
Producer(s)George Martin
CertificationGold (RIAA)[2]
The Beatles singles chronology
"A Hard Day's Night"
(UK-1964)

"Matchbox"
(US-1964)
"I Feel Fine"
(1964)
"If I Fell"
(UK-1964)

"Eight Days a Week"
(US-1965)
 
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"I Feel Fine"
Single by The Beatles
B-side"She's a Woman"
Released23 November 1964 (US)
27 November 1964 (UK)
Format7"
Recorded18 October 1964
EMI Studios, London[1]
GenreRock, rock and roll
Length2:25
LabelCapitol 5327 (US)
Parlophone R5200 (UK)
Writer(s)Lennon–McCartney
Producer(s)George Martin
CertificationGold (RIAA)[2]
The Beatles singles chronology
"A Hard Day's Night"
(UK-1964)

"Matchbox"
(US-1964)
"I Feel Fine"
(1964)
"If I Fell"
(UK-1964)

"Eight Days a Week"
(US-1965)
"I Feel Fine"
Single by Sweethearts of the Rodeo
from the album One Time, One Night
Released1989
GenreCountry
LabelColumbia
Producer(s)Steve Buckingham
Sweethearts of the Rodeo singles chronology
"Blue to the Bone"
(1988)
"I Feel Fine"
(1989)
"If I Never See Midnight Again"
(1989)

"I Feel Fine" is a riff-driven rock song written by John Lennon[3] (credited to Lennon–McCartney) and released in 1964 by the Beatles as the A-side of their eighth British single. The song is notable for being one of the first uses of guitar feedback in popular music. [4]

Origin[edit]

Lennon wrote the guitar riff while in the studio recording "Eight Days a Week".[5] "I wrote 'I Feel Fine' around that riff going on in the background", he recalled.[6] "I told them I'd write a song specially for the riff. So they said, 'Yes. You go away and do that', knowing that we'd almost finished the album Beatles for Sale. Anyway, going into the studio one morning, I said to Ringo, 'I've written this song but it's lousy'. But we tried it, complete with riff, and it sounded like an A side, so we decided to release it just like that."

Lennon loved technology, and when the feedback was coincidentally recorded during the I Feel Fine session, liked the sound of it and placed it at the beginning of the song.[6] Both John Lennon and George Harrison said that the riff was influenced by a riff in "Watch Your Step", a 1961 release written and performed by Bobby Parker[6] and covered by the Beatles in concerts during 1961 and 1962.[7] Paul McCartney said the drums on "I Feel Fine" were inspired by Ray Charles's "What'd I Say".[3]

At the time of the song's recording, the Beatles, having mastered the studio basics, had begun to explore new sources of inspiration in noises previously eliminated as mistakes (such as electronic goofs, twisted tapes, and talkback). "I Feel Fine" marks one of the earliest examples of the use of feedback as a recording effect in popular music. Artists such as the Kinks and the Who had already used feedback live, but Lennon remained proud of the fact that the Beatles were one of the first groups to actually put it on vinyl.

Structure[edit]

"I Feel Fine" is written in 4/4 time with drummer Ringo Starr's R&B-influenced beat (based on the "Latin" drumming in Ray Charles's hit "What'd I Say") featured through most of the song except for the bridge, which has a more conventional backbeat. After a brief note of heavy feedback (see below), the intro begins with a distinctive arpeggiated riff which starts in D major before quickly progressing to C major and then G major, at which point the vocals begin in G. Just before the coda, Lennon's intro riff (or ostinato), is repeated with a bright sound by George Harrison on electric guitar (a Gretsch Tennessean),[8] followed by the more "electric" sound of John's amped acoustic. .[4][8][9][10] The song ends with a fadeout of the G major portion of the opening riff repeated several times.

Feedback[edit]

"I Feel Fine" starts with a single, percussive (yet pure-sounding) feedback note produced by plucking the A string on Lennon's guitar. This was the very first use of feedback preceding a song on a rock record. According to McCartney, "John had a semi-acoustic Gibson guitar. It had a pickup on it so it could be amplified . . . We were just about to walk away to listen to a take when John leaned his guitar against the amp. I can still see him doing it . . . it went, 'Nnnnnnwahhhhh!" And we went, 'What's that? Voodoo!' 'No, it's feedback.' Wow, it's a great sound!' George Martin was there so we said, 'Can we have that on the record?' 'Well, I suppose we could, we could edit it on the front.' It was a found object, an accident caused by leaning the guitar against the amp."[3] Although it sounded very much like an electric guitar, Lennon actually played the riff on an acoustic-electric guitar (a Gibson model J-160E),[8] employing the guitar's onboard pickup.

Later, Lennon was very proud of this sonic experimentation. In one of his last interviews, he said, "I defy anybody to find a record... unless it is some old blues record from 1922... that uses feedback that way. So I claim it for the Beatles. Before Hendrix, before The Who, before anybody. The first feedback on record." [11]

Music video[edit]

Two different music videos directed by Joe McGrath were filmed. Both feature various bits of gym equipment. In one, George, Paul and John perform the song while Ringo rides the exercise bike. In the other they are all eating Fish and Chips, while trying to mime to the song.

Charts[edit]

The single reached the top of the British charts on 12 December of that year, displacing the Rolling Stones' "Little Red Rooster", and remained there for five weeks, and the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in late 1964. The B-side was the #4 hit "She's a Woman".

"I Feel Fine" was the last of six Hot 100 #1 hits in a calendar year, a record at the time, and also the first of six Hot 100 #1 chart toppers in a row (not counting the EP "4 - by the Beatles") by one act, also a record at the time. The subsequent singles were "Eight Days a Week", "Ticket to Ride", "Help!", "Yesterday" and "We Can Work It Out".[12] The latter record was equalled by the Bee Gees in 1979 and surpassed by Whitney Houston in 1988. "I Feel Fine" was also the first Beatles single to be released almost concurrently in the US and the UK. The song has sold 1.41 million copies in the UK.[13]

Other releases[edit]

In the United States, the song was released on their Capitol album Beatles '65, and is presented in a duophonic mix featuring a layer of reverb added by executive Dave Dexter, Jr.. This was on the stereo version of the album. The mono mix- released as a single on Capitol- features an exclusive mix with added reverb and a shorter fade as created by Beatles producer George Martin.

In the United Kingdom, the song was released on the LP format on A Collection of Beatles Oldies. A true stereo version can be found on the Past Masters Vol 1 and Beatles 1 CDs.

There is also another stereo version that sounds the same, but with whispering at the very beginning which appears on the original release of 1962–1966.

Personnel[edit]

Personnel per Ian MacDonald[14]

Cover versions[edit]

Chart performance[edit]

The Beatles[edit]

Chart (1964)Peak
position
Canadian RPM Top Singles1
UK Singles Chart1
US Billboard Hot 1001

Sweethearts of the Rodeo[edit]

Chart (1989)Peak
position
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[15]9

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1989)Position
US Country Songs (Billboard)[16]99

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

Preceded by
"Come See About Me" by the Supremes
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
26 December 1964 (three weeks)
Succeeded by
"Come See About Me" by the Supremes
Preceded by
"Little Red Rooster" by the Rolling Stones
UK number one single
(UK Christmas Number One single)

10 December 1964 (five weeks)
Succeeded by
"Yeh Yeh" by Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames