I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better
|"I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better"|
1965 Dutch picture sleeve
|Single by the Byrds|
|from the album Mr. Tambourine Man|
|A-side||"All I Really Want to Do"|
|Released||June 14, 1965|
|Recorded||April 14, 1965|
|Studio||Columbia, Hollywood, California|
|Genre||Folk rock, pop|
|The Byrds singles chronology|
"I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better" is a song by the Los Angeles folk rock band the Byrds, first released in June 1965 on the B-side of the band's second single, "All I Really Want to Do". Despite initially being released as a B-side, the song managed to chart in its own right in the U.S., just outside the Billboard Hot 100. It was also included on the Byrds' debut album, Mr. Tambourine Man.
The song was written by band member Gene Clark, who also sings the lead vocal. "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better" has been covered by a number of different artists over the years, and is regarded by fans and critics as one of the Byrds' best known songs.
Composition and content
The song dates from the Byrds' pre-fame residency at Ciro's nightclub in Los Angeles, as Clark explained during an interview: "There was a girlfriend I had known at the time, when we were playing at Ciro's. It was a weird time in my life because everything was changing so fast and I knew we were becoming popular. This girl was a funny girl, she was kind of a strange little girl and she started bothering me a lot. And I just wrote the song, 'I'm gonna feel a whole lot better when you're gone,' and that's all it was, but I wrote the whole song within a few minutes."
Byrds expert Tim Conners has called the song "the Platonic ideal of a Byrds song", in reference to the presence of some of the band's early musical trademarks, including Jim McGuinn's jangling 12-string Rickenbacker guitar; Chris Hillman's complex bass work; David Crosby's propulsive rhythm guitar, and the band's complex harmony singing and use of wordless "aaahhhh"s. Band biographer Johnny Rogan has also commented on the song's country-influenced guitar solo.
The song is built around a riff that Clark later admitted was based on the Searchers' cover of "Needles and Pins". Music critic Mark Deming has said that, lyrically, "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better" takes a sardonic view of romance, with Clark undecided about whether to break off a relationship with a woman who hasn't been entirely honest with him. The song's refrain of "I'll probably feel a whole lot better when you're gone" betrays Clark's uncertainty about ending the relationship and whether such an act would be the answer to his problems or not.
Deming has also pointed out that the use of the word "probably" in this refrain is key and lends the track a depth of subtext that was unusual for a pop song in the mid-1960s. Jim Dickson, the Byrds' manager, has remarked that this level of subtext was not unusual in Clark's songs of the period. Said Dickson, "There was always something to unravel in those songs, the non-explanation of the complex feeling. For instance, if you remember I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better, it doesn't say: "I'll feel a whole lot better", but "I'll probably feel a whole lot better." For me, that makes the song. There's a statement followed by a hesitation." Dickson would later work as a producer on Clark's 1984 album Firebyrd, which featured a re-recorded version of "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better".
Although it was initially released as the B-side of the "All I Really Want to Do" single, "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better" was itself heavily promoted by Columbia Records during the time that "All I Really Want to Do" spent on the Billboard charts. As a result, the song managed to chart in its own right in the U.S., reaching number 103. Mark Deming has commented that "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better" was the first song written by a member of the Byrds to be commercially successful.
Since its release, the song has become a rock music standard, inspiring a number of cover versions over the years. It is also considered by many critics to be one of the band's, as well as Clark's, best and most popular songs, with Rolling Stone magazine ranking it at number 234 on their list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
|"Feel a Whole Lot Better"|
|Single by Tom Petty|
|from the album Full Moon Fever|
|Released||24 April 1989|
|Genre||Folk rock, power pop|
|Producer(s)||Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Mike Campbell|
Tom Petty covered the song (as "Feel a Whole Lot Better") on his 1989 solo album, Full Moon Fever. Petty's version was released as the fourth single from the album and peaked at number 18 on the US Rock chart.
In 1978, country singer Bobby Bare covered the song on his album Sleeper Wherever I Fall. San Francisco band The Flamin' Groovies also released a cover of the song on their 1978 Sire Records release, Flamin' Groovies Now. Paisley Underground band The Three O'Clock covered the song on their Baroque Hoedown EP. Reportedly, Gene Clark sings backing vocal on this version of the song.
Argentinian rock musician Charly García covered the song on his 1990 album, Filosofía Barata y Zapatos de Goma. The track was named "Me Siento Mucho Mejor" and the lyrics were translated into Spanish.
Country pop artist Juice Newton covered the song on her 1985 Old Flame album but the song is slightly retitled as "Feel a Whole Lot Better". Newton's version also alters some of the song's verse lyrics. Likewise, The Crust Brothers covered the song on their 1998 live album, Marquee Mark, under this slightly altered title.
Dinosaur Jr. did a grungy cover on the Byrds tribute album, Time Between – A Tribute to The Byrds. Reportedly, this version was Gene Clark's favorite cover of the song because he felt that the band had captured the essence of the lyrics, but successfully made the music even more uptempo.
Marty Stuart's 2017 album Way Out West features a mash-up of "I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better" and some original Stuart lyrics. Not only that but the album was produced by Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, who also plays guitars on the track as he did on Petty's version from Full Moon Fever.
- Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. pp. 543–545. ISBN 0-9529540-1-X.
- Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. pp. 82–84. ISBN 0-9529540-1-X.
- Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. p. 560. ISBN 0-9529540-1-X.
- Einarson, John. (2005). Mr. Tambourine Man: The Life and Legacy of The Byrds' Gene Clark. Backbeat Books. p. 65. ISBN 0-87930-793-5.
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