Notes on "I Feel Fine" (IFF)
KEY G Major
FORM Intro -> Verse -> Verse -> Bridge -> Verse -> Verse (guitar solo) ->
Verse -> Bridge -> Verse -> Outro (fadeout)
GENERAL POINTS OF INTEREST
Style and Form
- The form of this song is unusually bulky as a result of the individual
sections themselves being rather short. Note especially the unusual
series of three verse sections in the middle, one of which is for solo
- The alternation found here in the penultimate phrase of the verses between
"I'm" and "She's" might be described, at this stage of their career, as
almost equally nostalgic as it is characteristic.
Melody and Harmony
- The entire song stays firmly rooted in the home key of G Major, and the
harmonic diet is limited to only four chords; with the bluesy triumverate
of I, IV, and V sufficing for the verses, and the iii chord being thrown
in for the bridges. The only harmonic feature here that is even slightly
unusual is the use of iii to bridge the gap between I and IV; i.e. iii
more often than not is generally followed by vi.
- The verse sports a number of other kinds of trademarks -- the melodic
noodling on just a couple or three notes in a narrow range; the bluesy
flat sevenths found in the early part of the section followed by the flat
third only near the end of it; and the static harmonic rhythm in the
- The guitar feedback at the very opening is much celebrated for its
serendipitous, experimental origin. It's worth emphasizing though
that this effect is not random "noise", but rather a clever isolation
of the naturally ocurring harmonic resonance one octave above the
original note that was plucked. Furthermore, the specific choice
of note plucked was far from random; see below.
- The lead guitar is prominently featured on the backing track to an extent
that its recurring presence provides a secondary hook of sorts. Beyond
the solo section itself, the licks which appear during the intro and
in between the two phrases of each verse create the impression of the
guitar always lurking there in the background.
- The vocal arrangement has John double tracked on lead with continually
intermittent support from Paul and George. Note how in the verse, the
chorus joins John for the second half of the section, whereas the
gambit is reversed in the bridge -- there, the chorus loudly reinforces
the first half of each phrase, only to retreat for the remainder of it
to a sotto-voce "ooh-ing" support role. The consistent placement of
John's singing of the tune on the *below* the other two lines adds a
- On top of all else, the particular style of the drumming lends an
offbeat, slightly 'Latin' flavor to the overall production.
- The intro starts off with the feedback sequence mentioned above. They
may have had some specific duration for this in mind, but the listener's
impression of it is as though it were performed ad libitum, out of tempo.
- This effect is immediately followed by a strange small noise, and then comes
the intro proper, a section of eight measures in length that is later quoted
again almost verbatim in the second half of the guitar solo section:
--- 4X ---
|D |- |C |- |G |
G: V IV I
- Once the music gets rolling, one hears the opening note retrospectively
as having implied an A Major chord (V-of-V) in relationship to the
D Major (V) which follows it. The V-IV-I progression itself helps
set the quasi-bluesy tone of the song from the start.
- This intro is also a good example of the Beatles trademark layered
opening, an effect created primarily by the manner in which entry of
the other instruments, especially the drums, is delayed until the
end of measure 6.
- The verse is ten measures long, and breaks down into two phrases of
6 and 4 measures respectively as a matter of the rhetorical inner
subphrasing of the lyrics and melody. In spite of the asymmetry, the
overall dramatic shape of the section remains arch-like and closed:
|G |- |- |- |D |- |
|D |C |G |- |
V IV I
- The ensemble singing is ever so slightly ragged. With the exception
of the third verse, they seem rather incapable of making a clean,
coordinated cut-off at the phrase endings.
- The bridge is eight measures long and built out of two repeats of
what is essentially the same four-measure phrase. In contrast to
the verse, the shape of this section is open ended and leads nicely
back around to the verse which follows it:
--------------- 2X --------------
|G |b |C |D |
I iii IV V
Verse (Guitar Solo)
- Though clearly based upon the verse, the length of this section is
adjusted slightly, to add a tad more dramatic emphasis to the second
half (note the re-entry of those drums!), as well as to make an
associative allusion back to the intro.
- The solo part itself mimics the pitch content and rhetoric of the
tune. The original backing track already had some solo guitar
work on it, to which a final solo part was later overdubbed (you can
check this on your bootlegs), and the intersection of the two parts
in a few instances makes for a surreal effect.
- John vocally introduces this section with a moan. This is an
infintesimal gesture perhaps, but it sets up a subtle point of
reference that resonates nicely when the same effect returns in
- The outro starts off as another one of those petit reprises of
the last phrase of the final verse; in this case, a winding back
to the V-IV-I phrase yet again.
- This is followed by a vamping into the fadeout over the sustained I
chord, accompanied by guitar riffing reminiscent of the intro, as well
as moans, whoops, and handclaps. The latter are barely audible on the
finished release, but reference to the bootleg of unretouched and
unedited take 9 (misleadingly identified on all boots as "take 7" --
you heard this hear first!!), betrays the extent to which this horsing
around went on during real time in the studio.
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
- Viewed in perspective of the Beatles stylistic development over
the long run, this song very much builds directly on the innovations
and new trademarks of the _AHDN_ album.
- 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.
Alan (email@example.com *OR* uunet!huxley!awp)
"Congratulate me, boys, I'm engaged." 050792#55
Copyright (c) 1992 by Alan W. Pollack
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