Monday, March 7, 2011

I Feel Fine

Robert Bunter: This is the middle period of the Beatles. They hadn't gone totally psychedelic yet, but they were outgrowing the elementary  world of "I love you, yeah/Yeah yeah yeah." They'd given up scotch-and cokes in favor of marijuana (which they hilariously referred (!) to as "reefer" or "the infamous jazz woodbines"). You know how it is when you first try marijuana: the most mundane details of everyday life begin to sparkle with portentous significance. You stare in slack-jawed wonder at a segment of your corduroy pants or the colorful fish darting back and forth in your primitive dorm room aquarium. Well, imagine how much more earth-shattering those early experiences were for the Beatles in 1964 and 1965 - there was no such thing as a mundane detail in their lives! Here you are, visually collapsing into your filthy fishtank, while George Harrison is pondering a never-ending series of high-powered celebrities, intellectuals, artistic innovators and beautiful women. Then, it's time to go to work, which consists of creating immortal works of supreme art with your three best friends, discovering new sounds and making millions of dollars. These were four men who had gone so far beyond the world the rest of us live in, you could never possibly understand it.

Richard Furnstein: A little touch of cheeba sets off this rocker. The dank dangerous feedback (I seem to remember the Anthology film or some other Beatles production claiming it was the first feedback ever in world history or something equally false and idiotic) represents entering a strange dark smokey room with weird smells and girls with slow eyes. The Beatles quickly shake off the lethargy with a poppin' little groover. There's not much here beyond the chorus, and even that is over so quickly that it hardly registers. It's hard to imagine George Martin getting worked up over this song when the Beatles delivered it: "Gentlemen, you just recorded your first completely pedestrian number one record."

Robert Bunter: Here's another interesting feature of this track: the cymbals. Personally, I don't like overly-busy cymbal playing, but that's what we've got here. I consider this a Ringo misstep; in my mind, this song would be better served by a laid-back, stoner dub groove as opposed to the arrogant mambo with which Starkey assails us. Still, it's hard to argue with a song like this.

Richard Furnstein: I'm sure Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummer Ringo Starr would love to take percussion advice from you; a gangly white man with an irregular heartbeat. I think the Beatles realized that this song was a bit slight, so they quickly rewrote it as the stellar "Paperback Writer." Thanks for giving us the choice to completely opt out of the bland riffola swing of "I Feel Fine."

Robert Bunter:
And, guess what else? There are barking dogs at the end! You can barely hear them, but they're there. Turn the volume way up, you'll hear it. I love it when Beatles songs have dogs at the end! Submitted for evidence: "Hey Bulldog," "Lovely Rita," and "Good Morning Good Morning."

Richard Furnstein: And that's just a ruff list!


  1. I remember reading in GUITAR WORLD's 25 Best Beatles riffs, they said to pluck the E and let it vibrate against your thumbnail to get the feedback noise. I heard that's how Hendrix did everything. Also in "FEEDBACK NEWS" i had a co-worker that said Jesus and Mary Chain were the first to use feedback "on purpose"