I Feel Fine
|"I Feel Fine"|
US single cover
|Single by The Beatles|
|from the album Beatles '65|
|B-side||"She's a Woman"|
|Released||23 November 1964 (US)
27 November 1964 (UK)
|Recorded||18 October 1964
EMI Studios, London
|Label||Capitol 5327 (US)
Parlophone R5200 (UK)
|The Beatles UK singles chronology|
"I Feel Fine" is a song written by John Lennon (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.
Lennon wrote the guitar riff while in the studio recording "Eight Days a Week". "I wrote 'I Feel Fine' around that riff going on in the background", he recalled. "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." 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 and covered by the Beatles in concerts during 1961 and 1962. Paul McCartney said the drums on "I Feel Fine" were inspired by Ray Charles's "What'd I Say".
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 perhaps the first group to deliberately put it on vinyl.
"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. The melody, unusually, uses a major third and a minor seventh, and has been classified as Mixolydian mode. 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), followed by the more "electric" sound of John's amped acoustic. The song ends with a fadeout of the G major portion of the opening riff repeated several times.
"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." Although it sounded very much like an electric guitar, Lennon actually played the riff on an acoustic-electric guitar (a Gibson model J-160E), 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." 
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.
"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.
"I Feel Fine" was the last of the six Beatles songs to go to #1 on the Hot 100 within one calendar year's time (1964), an all-time record. The song was the sixth of seven songs by the Beatles to hit #1 in a one-year period; an all-time record. In order, these were "I Want to Hold Your Hand", "She Loves You", "Can't Buy Me Love", "Love Me Do", "A Hard Day's Night", "I Feel Fine", and "Eight Days a Week". For songwriters Lennon and McCartney, it was the seventh #1 they wrote in a calendar year (1964), an all-time record.(see List of Billboard Hot 100 chart achievements and milestones)
The song was 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".
In the United States, the song was released on the Capitol album Beatles '65. The mono version - also released as a single on Capitol - features an exclusive mix with added reverb and a shorter fade as created by Beatles producer George Martin. The stereo version of the LP presented a duophonic mix featuring a layer of reverb added by executive Dave Dexter, Jr..
There is also another stereo version (virtually identical to the standard stereo mix) wherein whispering can be heard at the beginning of the track. This "whispering version" appears on the non-US release of 1962–1966, as well as on occasional single re-releases.
An outtake in mono is included in the On Air – Live at the BBC Volume 2 compilation released in 2013.
- John Lennon – double tracked lead vocal, lead/rhythm guitar
- Paul McCartney – harmony vocal, bass
- George Harrison – harmony vocal, lead/rhythm guitar
- Ringo Starr – drums
|"I Feel Fine"|
|Single by Sweethearts of the Rodeo|
|from the album One Time, One Night|
|B-side||"Until I Stop Dancing"|
|Released||December 3, 1988|
|Sweethearts of the Rodeo singles chronology|
- In 1965, The Ventures included a cover of the song on their LP Knock Me Out.
- In 1966, Chet Atkins released an instrumental cover on his album Chet Atkins Picks on the Beatles.
- In 1967, Alma Cogan released a version on her album Alma.
- In 1970, Penny DeHaven released a Country version on a single only.
- In 1986, Queen would often play this song's signature riff during their Magic Tour.
- In 1988, Sweethearts of the Rodeo released a Country version as a single.
- In 1998, The Punkles did a Punk version on their first album, The Punkles.
- In 2002, Take That included "I Feel Fine" in their "Beatles Medley".
- In 2003, Curtis Stigers did a ballad version on his album You Inspire Me.
- In 2005, Westlife included the song in their The Number Ones Tour set list.
- In 2005, Les Fradkin released an instrumental version on his album While My Guitar Only Plays.
- In 1997 John Farnham on compilation album Anthology 3: Rarities.
- In 2012, Reynolds & Williams Band released a bluegrass inspired version on their debut EP Reynolds & William.
- In 2009, Peter Mayer (of Jimmy Buffett's Coral Reefer Band) on his Beatles tribute album Goodbye Hello.
|Canadian RPM Top Singles||1|
|UK Singles Chart||1|
|US Billboard Hot 100||1|
Sweethearts of the Rodeo
|US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)||9|
|Australian Singles Chart||2|
- "1" Liner Notes by Mark Lewisohn
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- Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 341.
"Come See About Me" by the Supremes
|Billboard Hot 100 number one single
26 December 1964 (three weeks)
"Come See About Me" by the Supremes
"Little Red Rooster" by the Rolling Stones
|UK number one single
(UK Christmas Number One single)
10 December 1964 (five weeks)
"Yeh Yeh" by Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames