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"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]

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 [hide*1 Origin

Origin[edit]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 byBobby 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]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 introbegins 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]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 anacoustic-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]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]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. The song topped the US Billboard Hot 100charts for three weeks in late 1964/early 1965. The B-side was the #4 hit "She's a Woman".

"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), a record that stands as of 2014. 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".[12]

For songwriters Lennon and McCartney, it was the seventh #1 they wrote in a calendar year (1964), a record that still stands as of 2014.

"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]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]Edit

Personnel per Ian MacDonald[14]

Cover versions[edit]Edit

Chart performance[edit]Edit

The Beatles[edit]Edit

Chart (1964) Peak

position

Canadian RPM Top Singles 1
UK Singles Chart 1
US Billboard Hot 100 1

Sweethearts of the Rodeo[edit]Edit

Chart (1989) Peak

position

US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[15] 9

Year-end charts[edit]Edit

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