John Lennon maintained till the end of his life that "I Feel Fine" featured the first intentional guitar feedback on any record, and who am I to argue? That's what online comments
George Harrison held that John discovered the phenomenon accidentally while setting up for an early run-through (probably stoned) and henceforth experimented with every conceivable form of it during subsequent takes. On my old crackly vinyl copy of The Red
, if you turn it right up, you can hear John — I think — at the beginning, saying "I'm goin' home", or maybe "It's gonna hum". On the CD version, and on Masters
, it's been eliminated.
Written round the picky riff (which they readily claimed to have borrowed from an old R 'n' B favourite, "Watch Your Step" by Bobby Parker: later recycled by Led Zeppelin for "Moby Dick"), "I Feel Fine" became the Christmas number one in both Britain and the States. The Live At The BBC
version, false starts and all, was broadcast shortly ahead of the release.
That dominant double-guitar ostinato was achieved by John and George playing simultaneously, on amped acoustic and electric guitars respectively. As much as the Bobby Parker tune, there's a definite whiff of Ray Charles' "What'd I Say" about it, a song which Paul recalled stretching out endlessly to fill their Cavern sets (despite their conspicuous lack of an electric piano).
Its insistency is a fine counterpart to Lennon's vocal — it's good to me, you know, to have him sounding so glad
here — sublimely backed by George and Paul's high harmonies. Close your eyes and you can almost see them standing there: John swaggering like a cowboy, the other two leaning into their shared mike,Telling all the world!
Hell, if you can't imagine it, just watch the Shea Stadium footage...
Macca's bouncy bassline, which underpins the whole kaboodle, warrants special mention as an indicator of how he was beginning to really come to terms with and experiment with his instrument: he had, after all, only been playing for a couple of years at that point. "She's A Woman"
on the B-side, also part of the Shea set, is an equally fine example.
As for Ringo, despite having been much maligned as a drummer over the years (though rarely by other drummers), no-one else has ever played cymbals like the man:
Diamond, Rings, y'know
— She said so!//