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, Columbia Studios, Hollywood, CA|
|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 that was first released in June 1965 on the B-side of the band's second single, "All I Really Want to Do". It was also included on The Byrds' debut album, Mr. Tambourine Man. Written by Gene Clark, who also sings the lead vocal, "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better" features some of The Byrds' early musical trademarks, including Jim McGuinn's jangling 12-string Rickenbacker guitar; Clark's pounding tambourine; McGuinn, Clark and David Crosby's complex harmony singing; and a country-influenced guitar solo.
Although it was initially released as a B-side, "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 actually managed to chart in its own right at number 103. 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.
Background and content
Music critic Mark Deming has noted 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 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."
The song is built around a pounding riff that Clark later admitted was based on "Needles and Pins" by The Searchers. 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. Mark Deming has 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 noted 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".
Tom Petty covered the song on his 1989 solo album, Full Moon Fever. The Israeli band Hazvuvim (The Flys) performed a version of the song translated into Hebrew on their debut album Bzzz.... The Hebrew version was titled "Hasiba hi she...", which means "The Reason Why," the first line of the song.
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 E.P. 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.
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