When was it recorded? Oct. 18, 1964
When was it first released, and on which album? Nov. 27, 1964 as a single
Who wrote it? Lennon
Have I heard this song before? Yes
What my research dug up:
(And it only took me 101 entries to figure out the “Read More” tags.)
John wrote “I Feel Fine” while in the studio recording “Eight Days a Week.” Quoth John, “I wrote ‘I Feel Fine’ around that riff going on in the background” (Anthology).
According to John and George, Bobby Parker’s 1961 single “Watch Your Step” inspired this repurposed riff. I actually talked about it on Day 45: “Day Tripper,” which uses a similar motif. Here’s the song for a refresher.
Parker, who wrote “Watch Your Step,” noted the song was inspired by Dizzy Gillespie’s “Manteca” and Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say.” Paul also claimed the drum part on “I Feel Fine” borrows from “What’d I Say,” which was released in Jul. 1959. I discussed Charles previously on Day 81: “Hallelujah I Love Her So.” Regarding “What’d I Say,” Wikipedia says, “After his run of R&B hits, this song finally broke Charles into mainstream pop music and itself sparked a new sub-genre of R&B titled soul, finally putting together all the elements that Charles had been creating… It earned Ray Charles his first gold record and has been one of the most influential songs in R&B and rock and roll history. For the rest of his career, Charles closed every concert with the song. It was added to the National Recording Registry in 2002 and ranked at number 10 in Rolling Stone’s ‘The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.’”
Alan Pollack noted, “Viewed in perspective of the Beatles’ stylistic development over the long run, [‘I Feel Fine’] very much builds directly on the innovations and new trademarks of the ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ album.” Pollack added, “Perhaps the single most exceptional gesture in this particular number is to be found in its unaccustomed display (for John) of such effusive romantic euphoria, completely uncomplicated for a change by even the slightest second thoughts, anxiety, or self-doubt.”
Like “Day Tripper,” “I Feel Fine” was recorded during sessions for an album (this time “Beatles For Sale”) but intended and released as a single release only. It was recorded during a nine-hour session on Oct. 18, 1964.
According to About.com, “Although George was the lead guitarist of the group, the main riff is played by John. The famous solo is also played by John, though George joins him when the riff returns.” About.com also claims, “The “barking dog” noises at the very end of the fade-out are Paul’s,” which after Day 91: “Hey Bulldog” should surprise no one.
Quoth About.com, “Although many bands have claimed the distinction, “I Feel Fine” was the first recorded song to feature guitar feedback.”
“John had a semi-acoustic Gibson guitar. It had a pick-up on it so it could be amplified… 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?’ ‘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.” — Paul McCartney (Barry Miles, Many Years From Now)
Yes, except no. The Beatles Bible explained, “The use of feedback violated Parlophone’s strict recording policies, and so the band came to downplay it as an accident during recording. In actual fact it was present from the very first take.” Cute story, Paul.
“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.” — John Lennon (David Sheff, All We Are Saying)
“I Feel Fine” was released as the Beatles’ eighth single. This is the “true stereo” version found on “Past Masters Vol. 1.”
In the US, the stereo version is “a duophonic mix featuring a layer of reverb,” while the US mono version “features an exclusive mix with added reverb and a shorter fade as created by Beatles producer George Martin” (both Wikipedia). As About.com puts it, “The original US single mix is drenched in echo compared to its cleaner UK counterpart.” Quoth Wikipedia, “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.” We do not have time for that.
The “I Feel Fine” single entered British charts at #1 and stayed there for six weeks. It sold over 800,000 copies in the first five days and over one million copies by Dec. 11. In America, it sold over one million copies in its first week. The single has since been certified Gold by the RIAA. “I Feel Fine” was the first of the Beatles’ six consecutive #1 hits, the first any band had achieved such a feat.
The Beatles performed “I Feel Fine” in most of their live shows between 1964 and 1966. Live versions also appear on two compilation albums. Here’s the version of “I Feel Fine” that appears on 1994’s “Live at the BBC”; it was recorded Nov. 17, 1964 and aired Nov. 26 and Dec. 26.
Another version of “I Feel Fine” appears on 2013’s “On Air – Live at the BBC Vol. 2.”
To my infinite delight, two music videos were filmed for “I Feel Fine.” Joe McGrath directed both.