Song facts: I Feel Fine

 John Lennon 1964.

John Lennon 1964.

On October 18th 1964, The Beatles recorded I Feel Fine. The song was written by John Lennon who worked out the famous guitar riff at a Beatles for Sale recording session earlier that month.

According to McCartney the drums on I Feel Fine were also influenced by What I'd Say; a Ray Charles song.

"The song itself was more John's than mine. We sat down and co-wrote it with John's original idea. John sang it, I'm on harmonies and the drumming is basically what we used to think of as What'd I Say drumming. There was a style of drumming on What'd I Say which is a sort of Latin R&B that Ray Charles's drummer Milt Turner played on the original record and we used to love it. One of the big clinching factors about Ringo as the drummer in the band was that he could really play that so well." - Paul McCartney

Both Lennon and Harrison have cited Bobby Parker's 1961 song Watch Your Step as being the influence for the guitar riff.

"The guitar riff was actually influenced by a record called Watch Your Step by Bobby Parker. But all riffs in that tempo have a similar sound. John played it, and all I did was play it as well, and it became the double-tracked sound." - George Harrison
"George and I play the same bit on guitar together - that's the bit that'll set your feet a-tapping, as the reviews say. I suppose it has a bit of a country and western feel about it, but then so have a lot of our songs. The middle eight is the most tuneful part, to me, because it's a typical Beatles bit." - John Lennon

I Feel Fine is notable for purposefully having guitar feedback in a song; one of the earliest known recordings to do this. Even at this early stage The Beatles were beginning to incorporate unorthodox sounds into their recordings. Lennon had accidentally leaned his guitar against an amplifier which created the distorted feedback sound. Immediately George and John asked producer George Martin if they could have it on the record.

"We were just about the walk away to listen to a take when John leaned his guitar against the amp. I can still see him doing it. He really should have turned the electric off. It was only on a tiny bit, and John just leaned it against the amp when 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?" - Paul McCartney
 "That's me completely. Including the electric guitar lick and the record with the first feedback anywhere. I defy anybody to find a record - unless it's some old blues record in 1922 - that uses feedback that way. I mean, everybody played with feedback on stage, and the Jimi Hendrix stuff was going on long before. In fact, the punk stuff now is only what people were doing in the clubs. So I claim it for The Beatles. Before Hendrix, before The Who, before anybody. The first feedback on any record."- John Lennon

On this day The Beatles also recorded Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey, another cover song for Beatles for Sale.  

Personnel - I Feel Fine

  • John Lennon – double tracked lead vocal, lead/rhythm guitar
  • Paul McCartney – harmony vocal, bass
  • George Harrison – harmony vocal, lead/rhythm guitar
  • Ringo Starr – drums

Personnel - Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey

  • Paul McCartney – lead vocals, bass
  • John Lennon – lead guitar, backing vocals
  • George Harrison – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
  • Ringo Starr – drums
  • George Martin - piano
 I Feel Fine/She's a Woman single sleeve, 1964.

I Feel Fine/She's a Woman single sleeve, 1964.

Release

I Feel Fine was released in the US on November 23rd 1964, and in the UK on the 27th. On December 10th the song reached the top of the UK Singles Chart, remaining there for 5 weeks; it also topped the Billboard Hot 100 in the US on December 26th 1964.

The B-side to I Feel Fine was Paul McCartney's She's a Woman, which later became a popular song in The Beatles' live repertoire. 

 John Lennon, 1964. 

John Lennon, 1964. 

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