100 Greatest Beatles Songs

From 'Helter Skelter' to 'Sgt. Pepper's,' ranking of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison's output

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'I Feel Fine'
Ron Case/Getty Images42/100

42. 'I Feel Fine'

Main Writer: Lennon
Recorded: October 18, 1964
Released: November 23, 1964
11 weeks; No. 1

"I Feel Fine" opens with a brief, throaty growl from Lennon's amplifier. The clipped distortion sounds polite next to the noise Pete Townshend and Jimi Hendrix would soon put on record, but the Beatles got there first. "I defy anybody to find a record — unless it's some old blues record in 1922 — that uses feedback that way," said Lennon. "I claim it for the Beatles."

According to George Martin, feedback was a routine nuisance at Beatles sessions. "John always turned the [volume] knob up full," the producer said. "It became kind of a joke. But he realized that he could do this to advantage." The feedback on "I Feel Fine" was very much on purpose, existing on the master tapes from the first take.

"I Feel Fine" also showcased the Beatles' evolving musicianship, with Starr chipping in a calypso-flavored dialogue between cymbal and tom-tom. "Ringo developed from a straight rock drummer into quite a musical thinker," said Martin. "He was always trying out different ideas."

Appears On: Past Masters

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