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“I'VE GOT A FEELING”
(John Lennon – Paul McCartney)
The great “John Lennon and Paul McCartney” songwriting team saw its final appearance in the “Let It Be” track “I've Got A Feeling.” While the “Lennon / McCartney” moniker was still in place throughout the rest of their career, by 1969 they had, for all intents and purposes, become individual songwriters. When examining their output for that final year, it's quite easy to determine who was the principle, if not sole, composer of each song, simply by identifying who sang the lead vocals.
This determination also makes it obvious that “I've Got A Feeling” was written by both of them since Paul sang lead on certain sections of the song and John sang lead elsewhere. Interviews and historic research bears this out to be a true assumption.
This is not to say that one never relied on the other for assistance in that final year. As Paul explained in his book “Many Years From Now” about their last days, “He knew he could always leave a couple of sentences out, come and see me and we knew we would always finish them. It was a guaranteed solution.” This was the case with “The Ballad Of John And Yoko,” for instance, while Paul many times helped solidify the arrangement on John's songs during the recording process, such as with “Come Together” and “Don't Let Me Down.” So, in this sense, the songwriting partnership remained intact right until the end.
However, “I've Got A Feeling” was a composite of two individual songs, one Paul's and one John's, that was found to fit together perfectly. Their previous experiments of merging two compositions, such as with “A Day In The Life” and “Baby You're A Rich Man,” was tried one last time in 1969, the result becoming what many refer to as their last true collaboration.
John Lennon at Twickenham Film Studios, circa January 1969
On January 2nd, 1969, which was the first day of rehearsals at Twickenham Film Studios for what became the “Let It Be” movie and album, John ran through a bit of a song he had written entitled “Everybody Had A Hard Year.” He stated on that day that he had started writing this the night before but, as we'll see below, this was simply not true.
Throughout 1968, John and Yoko began a series of movies that they titled “Film #1,” “Film #2” and so on. For instance, “Film #5” was an hour-long movie that consisted of a close-up of John's face shown slowly frame-by-frame of him going through various stages of smiling, while birds chirped in the background. “Rape: Film #6,” which was broadcast on Austrian National Televison on March 31st, 1969, included a minute-long segment of John and Yoko that was filmed in the back garden of his Kenwood home in Weybridge, Surrey in December of 1968. They were singing a song in unison while John played a nylon-string guitar with a capo on the fifth fret. He was playing the chords of his song “Julia” using the same “travis-picking” style taught to him by Donovan in India. They sang the now-familiar lyrics:
“Everybody had a hard year / everybody had a good time /
everybody had the soft dream / everybody saw the sunshine”
After the camera zoomed in on their faces, John says, “Surprise, surprise,” and then they continued to repeat the same verse, changing out the third line to what sounds like “everybody saw the sentine.” John even followed this up with four repeats of “oh yeah” as we've come to know on the finished song. He then continues instrumentally playing the “Julia” chords as the camera pans away. This film is evidence that John's portion of “I've Got A Feeling” existed in December of 1968.
John recorded an audio demo of "Everybody Had A Hard Year" shortly before this, presumably at his Kenwood home in early December of 1968, that has Lennon singing "everyone" instead of "everybody" in most instances. The lyrics appear somewhat ad-libbed at that time, lines such as "everyone had a facelift," "everyone put their feet up," "everyone got the boot in" and "everybody got the wrong time" all being heard in this demo.
The next appearance of the song was on January 2nd, 1969 at Twickenham Film Studios. After Paul arrived that day, they ran through the full “I've Got A Feeling” arrangement twenty times, both Paul and John's contribution being woven together as we've come to know it. This evidence indicates that the two of them must have gotten together beforehand to merge John's “Everybody Had A Hard Year” with another song that Paul had been working on. Barry Miles, as quoted in McCartney's book “Many Years From Now,” states that this did indeed happen sometime in December of 1968. “John brought his section round to Cavendish Avenue and they finished the song together as an equal 50-50 collaboration,” Miles relates.
As for Paul's section, writers have claimed that the lyrics were inspired by his new relationship with Linda Eastman, whom he would marry shortly afterward on March 12th, 1969. While the “feeling” he refers to in the lyrics is never identified, despite saying it was something that he “can't hide" and that "everybody knows,” the only real indication that is about anyone in particular is a line about how for “years” he was “wandering around” in search of “somebody who looked like you.” Noting that this is hardly an affectionate love song to anyone, Paul's “I've Got A Feeling” contribution appears to be nothing much more than an exercise in writing a nondescript rock and roll song with a good heavy feel, which it did turn out to be.
Lennon's “Everybody's Had A Hard Year” segment has been described to be a reflection of his 1968 experience with Yoko, which indeed can be described as “hard.” In the past twelve months, his marriage to Cynthia ended, he was separated from his son Julian, he got addicted to Heroin, Yoko had suffered a miscarriage on November 21st, and he was convicted of drug possession on November 28th. Understandably, his song does not focus on these unfortunate events, equally nondescript lyrics focusing on “wet dreams,” seeing “the sunshine,” pulling “socks up” and putting your “foot down” taking precedence instead.
After meeting with Paul at his St. John's Wood home in London sometime in December of 1968 to merge both of their songs into one, John met with the others at Twickenham Studios on January 2nd, 1969, with an arrangement that was already formulated, right down to the synchronized vocals of both composers in the final verse. All that was left was to finalize the arrangement with George and Ringo and rehearse it repeatedly before it was ready to record.
Apart from John's audio and filmed demos from December of 1968 detailed above, the first consideration of “I've Got A Feeling” for The Beatles to record was on January 2nd, 1969. John and George were the first Beatles to arrive at Twickenham Film Studios at around 11 am on that day, this being the first rehearsal for what eventually became the “Let It Be” film and album. As they waited for the others to arrive, John and George both ran through some of their new song ideas for the project.
To show George the new composite “I've Got A Feeling” song that he and Paul had recently worked out, John played his “Everybody Had A Hard Year” segment. George put in some attempts at adding some lead guitar lines over what he was playing, John also trying to demonstrate Paul's contribution to the song by singing, “Well, I've got a feeling, deep inside.” Also demoed at this time was John's “Don't Let Me Down,” “Dig A Pony,” the Maharishi-inspired “Child Of Nature” (which he introduced as “On The Road To Rishikesh”) and the beginnings of what eventually became “Sun King.” All of these songs are shown to be very preliminary undeveloped ideas at this stage, demonstrating that he was going through a dry spell as a songwriter at the time. “Child Of Nature,” for instance, was an abandoned song from over eight months prior, an even older “Across The Universe” eventually being dredged up as this month's rehearsals moved forward. On this first day, George also presented to John two new well-formed compositions, “All Things Must Pass” and “Let It Down.”
After Paul and Ringo arrived, they got to work on perfecting three new compositions, these being “Don't Let Me Down,” “Two Of Us” and especially, “I've Got A Feeling,” which was fresh on Paul's mind because of his and John's recent rehearsal of the song at McCartney's home. They ran through the song a total of twenty times on this day, Paul sometimes calling out the chords for John and George. He would habitually stop the performance to explain the arrangement he had in mind, at one point switching to acoustic guitar to demonstrate his ideas. He also spent a considerable amount of time demonstrating to John how he wanted the descending guitar riff to sound.
It appears that both Paul and John were excited to hear their brainchild come to life with The Beatles for the first time. All of their vocal and harmony parts were already in place, including their simultaneous lead vocals near the song's conclusion. Humorously, John would incorporate different lines in his part, such as “everybody got a hard on.” Also of interest is how Ringo switched to a swing-style rhythm (not unlike “Revolution”) during the ascending and descending triplet chords in the instrumental sections that follow John's contribution and then at the conclusion of the song. At the end of the day, "I've Got A Feeling" was the most accomplished new song they had thus far for the project, although a good amount of refining was still needed.
The following day, January 3rd, 1969, was the second day of rehearsals at Twickenham Studios, The Beatles taking up valuable filming time having fun running through many oldies, original and otherwise. However, among the reminiscing, they spent a fair amount of time on some of the new compositions, George's “All Things Must Pass” being the first to be extensively rehearsed. Being proud of how far they had gotten with “I've Got A Feeling,” they did run through it six times to tighten up their performance a bit further. Lennon was also eager to demo a new song he undoubtedly began to write the previous evening, “Gimme Some Truth,” which shows he was trying hard to remedy his dry spell and present more material for the project. Unfortunately, this song eventually fell through the cracks, as had George's “All Things Must Pass” and “Let It Down,” all three of these being developed and released as solo tracks after The Beatles broke up.
Day three of rehearsals, which was January 6th, 1969, saw much conversation and bickering among The Beatles, George's disgruntled “I'll play whatever you want me to play” dialog, as seen in the “Let It Be” movie, taking place on this day during rehearsals of the song “Two Of Us.” Nonetheless, they managed three more versions of “I've Got A Feeling” before the day ended.
January 7th, 1969, was the fourth day of “Let It Be” rehearsals at Twickenham, six rehearsals of “I've Got A Feeling” being performed on this day. Having solidified the arrangement already, emphasis was placed on refining the vocals, while Paul instructed Ringo to keep to a 4/4 drum pattern during the ascending and descending triplet chords instead of instinctively switching to a swing beat.
Only two rehearsals of “I've Got A Feeling” were performed on their fifth day of rehearsals, January 8th, 1969, but one of them was exceptional enough to be featured in the resulting “Let It Be” film, at least in part. Upon watching the footage in the film, Paul is standing and George is wearing a red shirt during the January 8th footage of the song. Paul enthusiastically shouts “Good Morning!” at the conclusion of the bridge and repeats John's final line “everybody put their foot down” as the song concludes.
Paul's scorching lead vocal is an irresistable feature that got this footage included in the film, although it wasn't officially recorded and thereby could not be considered as a contender for the soundtrack album. Two things of note here is that there were four ascending and descending chord patterns in the instrumental section after John's lead vocal part, which now were played by Ringo with a straight 4/4 drum pattern on his toms per Paul's instruction.
On the sixth day of rehearsals, January 9th, 1969, they went through “I've Got A Feeling” five times, excerpts from one of them being spliced together with the above mentioned January 8th footage for the “Let It Be” movie. With Paul sitting down and George wearing a dark shirt, the version of the song in question contains John reverting back to singing “everybody got a face-lift” in a couple places and singing in an Americanized nasal tone, repeating “oh yeah?” several times during the song's conclusion. As the song ends, John plays a mock concluding guitar riff with many intentionally sour notes, this being captured twice in the movie from different camera angles. George is featured here playing his guitar through a wah-wah pedal, something that was eventually deemed inappropriate for the song.
In-between these five rehearsals, Paul takes the time to instruct John again on what he envisioned for the descending guitar riff at the conclusion of the bridge, this instruction being featured in the movie. “It's coming down too fast, the note,” Paul tells John, adding, “No, there shouldn't be any recognizable jumps...It's, like, falling, falling!” John attempts to follow Paul's wishes in this regard, something that he eventually nails as the sessions continue.
Day seven of rehearsals, January 10th, 1969, is of particular interest to most Beatles fans. Paul was the first to arrive, which prompts him to sit at the piano and run through some of the songs they had previously been working on. Interestingly, he chose to perform a unique piano version of “I've Got A Feeling,” followed by a few improvisations of the song in which the late-arriving Beatles joined in on.
The mood of this day was quite sour, resulting in George quitting the group during their lunch break. Not exactly knowing what they were going to do to remedy the situation, the remaining three Beatles continued to rehearse. The tension of that event led to a rather unproductive session for the remainder of the day. They blew off steam by performing a horrendous version of “I've Got A Feeling,” among many other exercises in futility.
This rendition of “I've Got A Feeling” includes a lot of exaggerated screaming and foolish vocalizations, Ringo being the only Beatle to put in a suitable performance except for the slowing tempo near the song's conclusion. They rounded out the evening by playing various disjointed selections, such as The Who's “A Quick One, While He's Away” (appropriate with George's absence), Bobby Darin's “Mack The Knife” and an impromptu jam with Yoko on vocals as she sits in George's empty seat. With their future in question, this session concluded in an air of indifference.
It took eleven days to sort out the situation of George quitting The Beatles. During his time away, one noteworthy thing he did was write the song “Wah-Wah,” which eventually appeared on his first solo album “All Things Must Pass” the following year. In a 1987 Musician Magazine interview, George described the song's message as, “You're giving me a headache,” and in his book “I Me Mine,” he revealed that the song's title was referring to “a 'headache' as well as a 'foot pedal',” the wah-wah pedal being used by George quite a lot during the January 1969 Beatles sessions. The song described the frustration he was feeling during these Twickenham sessions, in particular with Paul instructing him on how he wanted George to play guitar. The unmistakable similarity between the guitar riff John was playing on “I've Got A Feeling” and George's main riff in “Wah-Wah” is hardly coincidental.
Per George's conditions, The Beatles moved their rehearsals from Twickenham Studios to their new Apple Headquarters basement studio on Savile Row in London. Their first session at this location was January 21st, 1969, EMI supplying recording equipment to properly record a performance if The Beatles felt ready to. They ran through “I've Got A Feeling” four times on this day, although these versions were quite sloppy.
One of these versions had John shout “Yeah, let's go!” at the beginning and then replace the descending guitar riff at the end of the bridge with a slow series of vibrato notes. Paul exclaims “everybody put their foot down” during the ascending and descending chords that come after John's first segment, Ringo then miscounting the four repeats of this section by stopping his drumming after the third time. John shouts “Can You Dig It?” toward the end, and then after it concluded, suggests what song they should run through next by shouting “Don't Let Me Down, baby!”
January 22nd, 1969, was day 11 of rehearsals and their second day at Apple Studios. This was the first day that keyboardist Billy Preston was present in the studio, although he didn't arrive until late morning after The Beatles had already worked extensively on “I've Got A Feeling.” They ran through the song a total of 29 times during this session, Billy Preston only contributing to a couple extended versions later in the day. One refinement they decided upon at this point was to reduce the amount of ascending and descending chord patterns they played at two places in the arrangement, once after John's verse and then at the conclusion of the song. Instead of four repetitions of this on each occasion, they now decided to only play it once when it first occurs and three times at the end.
Before Billy Preston's arrival, they experimented with softening the tone of the song by playing it with a more country & western swing tempo to “get more feeling.” The laid-back atmosphere on this day shows itself in many ways, one of which is John's singing “I had a dream” and “I had a dream this afternoon” several times during the rehearsals of this song. Both John and Paul had watched a TV program the following evening entitled “Deep South,” the subject matter concerning rare relations in Mississippi with segments of famous Martin Luther King Jr. speeches featured, such as his famous August 28th, 1963 "I had a dream" Washington DC speech. John and Paul had been discussing this during this day's session, leading to a playful Lennon including a bit of Dr. King's famous speech within the takes of “I've Got A Feeling” from time to time, as well as them both attempting to quote from the speech in-between takes.
One of the better takes of the song on this day especially caught the ear of producer / engineer Glyn Johns, even though this version fell apart just before the final verse, thus omitting the synchronized Lennon / McCartney lead vocals. Nonetheless, this take was very impressive despite John not quite performing his descending guitar notes at the end of the bridge as intended, something they also worked hard at perfecting on this day. After Paul sings “I've got a feeling” in the third verse, John answers “yes you have,” the interchange continuing with “that keeps me on my toes,” “on your what?” At the 2:40 mark of this take, John comes to the realization that he was drowning out the others with his guitar. “I cocked it up trying to get loud,” he states after the song falls apart. After Paul agrees, John adds, “Nothing bad though.”
Glyn Johns was particularly enamored with many other recordings The Beatles made on this day as well. He included the above "I've Got A Feeling" take along with some other recordings from this day on his proposed “Get Back” album that was destined to be released in the summer of 1969, a March 10th acetate of which he put together for The Beatles to review. “I'm extremely proud of it; always have been” Glyn wrote in the book “The Beatles: An Oral History.” “Everybody thought the album was wonderful. I presented it to them in the same manner that I'd done the first idea, and it went down very well.” His "first idea" was to include bits of chatter and humor caught on tape during the rehearsals, as well as some impromptu jams to be used as link tracks. In the end, The Beatles rejected his "Get Back" album, including this version of “I've Got A Feeling,” the preference being the use of a more perfected recording of the song. Glyn John's instincts were correct, however, concerning the attractiveness of this version of the track, it being eventually included on the 1996 compilation album “Anthology 3.”
The primary focus at their Apple Studios session the following day, January 23rd, 1969, was the newly developed song “Get Back,” which they ran through with Billy Preston 43 times. Their arrangement of “I've Got A Feeling” had been was considered finalized by that time, so they only jammed on the riffs of the song on three occasions, an eight-second snippet of one of these being included on the Glyn Johns "Get Back" album acetate that he gave the individual Beatles to review.
They didn't need to go over “I've Got A Feeling” for the next few sessions at all, The Beatles returning to it on January 27th, 1969 at Apple Studios, this being day 16 of rehearsals. They ran through the song nine times, one of which eventually being mixed on May 13th, 1969 and included on yet another acetate that Glyn Johns prepared. Just after the song begins, John's guitar begins to feed back, which halts the song. As he immediately starts another take, he sings, “I'm so ashamed, I goofed again!” This rough rendition was performed with much enthusiasm and is an enjoyable listen. After it was over, Ringo asks the producer, “Glyn? (taps on tom-toms), what does that sound like?” This small segment was also included in the above-mentioned March 13th acetate.
Rehearsal day 17, January 28th, 1969, saw the group run through “I've Got A Feeling” 17 more times at Apple Studios. These rehearsals were a bit more experimental and unfocused, one of these takes lasting a full 15 minutes because of the inclusion of a repeated three-chord coda. One version was played at a slower pace while containing lead vocal improvisations from John and Paul and lead guitar experiments from George. During the final ascending and descending chord section, John is reminded of Bob Dylan's song “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” and thereby sings “They'll stone you when you're...”
Paul had to leave the rehearsals at some point on this day for a meeting, John taking it upon himself to lead the remaining Beatles through a couple renditions of “I've Got A Feeling” singing both his and Paul's lead vocal parts. John's vocal range isn't as high as Paul's so, on his first attempt, he alters his melody line accordingly to suit his abilities, exclaiming “now, listen!” as he's about to go into his “everybody had a hard year” segment. Upon Paul's return, they resume work on the song as before.
The main focus for the following day, January 29th, 1969, (day 18 of rehearsals) was to run through the five songs that they would perform on the next day's rooftop performance. Each of the five songs, “I've Got A Feeling” included, were rehearsed once with subdued vocal performances in order to save their voices for the next day. It appears that Billy Preston was unavailable for this day's rehearsals.
Next came the January 30th, 1969 Beatles lunchtime performance on the roof of their London Apple headquarters, which was described by young engineer Alan Parsons as “one of the greatest and most exciting days of my life.” They performed “I've Got A Feeling” twice, the first being deemed the best and worthy of inclusion on both the “Let It Be” film and soundtrack album.
That first version, while excellent, features one notable lyric flub from John, this being “everybody put the fool down” instead of “foot down,” as heard when the verse is repeated later. This, however, could have been an intentional jab at The Fool, a Dutch design collective and band that had been associated with The Beatles for many projects during their psychedelic 1967 period. After this version ends, John sings “Oh, my soul” and then states “so hard!” in reference, no doubt, to his guitar-playing ability on that chilly January afternoon. During the lag time before the engineering team in the Apple Studio basement is ready for the next song, Ringo is heard sniffing his inhalant as he had also done just before “Dig A Pony” begins. The engineering crew is then heard through a connected speaker system asking, “Ringo, adjust the mic on the snare drum,” which he then proceeds to do.
The second version of “I've Got A Feeling” is also very spirited. John, however, begins his descending bent notes after the bridge a little high, resulting in Paul chuckling through the first line of the third verse that follows. John's first vocal verse appears quite different here, the first segment coming out as, “everybody had a hard year / everybody had a head dream / everybody saw the sun shine / everybody got an obscene.” After John's usual “oh yeah” repetitions, Paul inquisitively asks, “Oh, yeah?” Paul then predates the rapper era by vocalizing “yeah, uh, yeah, uh” during the closing section of the song.
On February 5th, 1969, Glyn Johns met with engineer Alan Parsons (and possibly George Martin) at the Apple headquarters basement studio to create stereo mixes of the five rooftop songs. Both versions of “I've Got A Feeling” were mixed to stereo, a decision as to which was best not having been decided yet.
Having received the task of assembling the next Beatles album, Glyn Johns entered Olympic Sound Studios on March 10th, 1969 to create stereo mixes from the pile of eight-track tapes recorded in January. As detailed above, Glyn (and possibly George Martin) chose a January 22nd rendition of “I've Got A Feeling” to make a stereo mix of, even though this version didn't make it to the end of the song. Acetate discs were made of the 13 songs that were mixed today for The Beatles to hear, John's copy ending up in the hands of American disc jockeys and then appearing as bootleg album releases before the end of 1969.
Glyn Johns apparently changed his mind as to which version of “I've Got A Feeling” he wanted to include on the proposed “Get Back” album. On March 13th, 1969, he re-entered Olympic Sound Studios (possibly with George Martin) to create a stereo mix of a rendition The Beatles recorded on January 27th, as detailed above.
May 28th, 1969, was the date that the proposed “Get Back” album was finalized at Studio One of Olympic Studios by George Martin, Glyn Johns and engineer Steve Vaughan. They did the master tape banding and compilation of the album on this day, “I've Got A Feeling” being sequenced as the sixth song on side one. As it turned out, they decided to go with Glyn's first instincts and featured the January 22nd recording of the song as originally intended. This album, of course, was rejected by The Beatles, the majority of these songs not being heard by the public for nearly another full year.
On January 5th, 1970, Glyn Johns was commissioned once again to prepare a new version of the “Get Back” album to coincide with the soon-to-be-released movie of the same name. Some recent Beatles recording sessions and track selection adjustments made a new master tape banding and compilation necessary, so this was done by Glyn alone in Studio One of Olympic Sound Studios on this day. As before, the January 22nd, 1969 recording of “I've Got A Feeling” was used and sequenced as the sixth track on side one. This verson of the album was again rejected by the band, partially because Glyn Johns wanted to be credited as producer of the album, something John Lennon objected to.
With the movie's premier set for May of 1970, legendary American producer Phil Spector was recruited in March to prepare the soundtrack album, which was now titled “Let It Be.” He first needed to choose the best renditions of the Beatles songs in consideration to create stereo mixes, this process beginning on March 23rd, 1970 in Room 4 of EMI Studios.
With engineers Peter Bown and Roger Ferris, his first order of business on this day was to choose a January 28th version of “I've Got A Feeling” that The Beatles recorded in their Apple basement studio, two stereo mixes being made on this day. After creating a stereo mix of the rooftop performance of “Dig A Pony,” Spector decided to give his attention to the excellent first rooftop performance of “I've Got A Feeling” from January 30th, 1969, creating four stereo mixes of this as well. He then created an edit of both mixes of the January 28th version of "I've Got A Feeling" and then an edit of all four mixes of the January 30th rooftop performance of the same song. After comparisons were made, the rooftop mix of “I've Got A Feeling” was chosen for inclusion on the soundtrack album.
Sometime in 1996, George Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick dug into the Abbey Road Library for the master tape of “I've Got A Feeling” as recorded on January 22nd, 1969 and featured in Glyn John's proposed “Get Back” albums. They created a vibrant new stereo mix of this recording for inclusion on the 1996 compilation album “Anthology 3.”
The engineering team of Paul Hicks, Guy Massey and Allan Rouse pulled out this tape once again sometime in 2003 to create a mix of “I've Got A Feeling” for the album “Let It Be...Naked.” Both rooftop performances were edited together to create an excellent stereo mix, the results showcasing the verses and the second half of John's solo vocal verse from the second rooftop performance interspersed with the rest from the first performance as featured on the “Let It Be” album. All unwanted flubs and vocal mutterings were omitted in the process, John singing the correct lyric “everybody put their foot down” in both of his verses for the first time on a general release.
Paul had a live rendition of “I've Got A Feeling” recorded on June 27th, 2007 at Amoeba Music in Hollywood, California, the results eventually being released on his 2019 album "Amoeba Gig." Then, another live performance of the song was recorded between July 17th and 21st, 2009, at Citi Field in New York City, this being included on his “Good Evening New York City” album released later that same year.
Song Structure and Style
The structure of “I've Got A Feeling” parses out to be 'verse/ verse/ bridge/ verse/ alternate verse/ alternate verse/ alternate bridge/ alternate verse/ alternate verse/ alternate bridge' (or aabaccdccd). The appearance of alternate verses and bridges are due to this being a composite song made up of two individually written sections pieced together. Lennon's “everybody had a hard year” alternate verses, while unexpected, add a degree of flair to the song that displays camaraderie amid the otherwise turbulent time in their career.
John starts everything out with a two-measure intro that consists entirely of the identifiable guitar riff of the song played twice. As in the early Beatle years, Lennon is once again responsible for providing the opening two-measure guitar riff as witnessed on, for instance, “You Can't Do That” and “I Feel Fine.” The first 12-measure verse begins immediately afterward, Paul's lead vocal being the only added element in measures one through four. Paul's impromptu exclamation “that's right” brings in the only other element needed for the next four measures, this being Ringo's hi-hat / kick drum beats that climax with a drum fill in measure eight.
Measure nine kicks up the energy with George's lead guitar figure and Billy Preston's electric piano coupled with Paul's bass and vocal “Yeah” accentuation. Both George and John play their guitar chords in a triplet fashion in measure nine while Ringo keeps the steady 4/4 beat with crashing cymbals, the tenth measure featuring another spirited “Yeah” from Paul while George moves into an ascending guitar figure to augment John's guitar chords. The final part of measure ten consists only of Ringo's eighth-note snare beats and Paul's exuberant repeat of the song's title. The eleventh and twelfth measures consist of John's return to the song's guitar riff, George's accentuating lead guitar figure, Paul's “yeah” and jumping bass line, Ringo's steady 4/4 drum beat while riding on the hi-hat, and Billy's flowing electric piano accents.
The second twelve-measure verse continues the same instrumentation as in the final two measures of the previous verse, the only addition being John's vocal harmony throughout. The first eight measures continue this same pattern, Billy taking the role of lead player in measures three / four and seven / eight. Measures nine through twelve are identical to the previous verse, the only addition being another ad lib “I've got a feeling” from Paul in the twelfth measure.
A high-energy five-measure bridge follows, Paul's screeching vocal taking center stage. While Ringo plods through with crashing cymbals on the quarter-beats, George plays lead guitar lines that are prominent in volume but overshadowed by our attention in deciphering Paul's lyric. John's rhythm guitar chops, Billy's pounding electric piano chords and Paul's eight-note stair-step bass notes fill out the musical landscape nicely. The fourth and fifth measures, however, bring everything to a halt for yet another “Beatles break,” John's excellently delivered bending note lead guitar passage filling the void. Ringo's drum fill in the fifth measure works perfectly as a transition to the third verse that follows.
This third verse is a virtual repeat of the second verse but with different lyrics. One difference here is John taking somewhat of a backseat on harmony vocals, punching in only occasionally on the repeated “oh yeah”s.
Next comes two alternate verses, the first being six measures long and the second being only four. John sings solo lead vocals throughout, the only exception being an impromptu “ooh yeah” from Paul in the fifth measure and “yeah” in the sixth measure of the first alternate verse. Ringo subtly rides on his hi-hat as the intensity of the song's feel dies down somewhat during these alternate verses, John's startling lyric “everybody had a wet dream” sticking out like a sore thumb. After John repeats “oh yeah” three times in measures five and six, the second alternate verse begins, this progressing with the same subdued feel as the first but cutting off after the fourth measure this time around. Throughout both of these verses, George meanders through some quiet lead guitar lines that are hardly noticeable but interesting. Paul adds in yet another quiet “yeah” at the end of the third measure of the second alternate verse while Billy plods along unambiguously in the background.
This is followed by a four-measure alternate bridge, which can be divided into two parts. The first part is a two-measure progression that features John and George playing chords in a triplet-like fashion, John ascending upward and then downward as George is ascending downward and then upward. All the while, Ringo, under Paul's instruction, is plodding away on his toms and kick drum in a steady 4/4 pattern despite the obvious swing pattern that the guitarists are playing. With a simple “yeah” from Paul at the conclusion of the fourth measure, the second half of the alternate bridge commences, which primarily features a reprise of John's identifiable guitar riff played twice solo. The fourth measure of this alternate bridge brings in a drum fill from Ringo and an excited “woo-hoo” from Paul.
Next comes the piece de resistance; a remarkable second set of alternate verses that accommodates the vocalizations of Paul's “I've got a feeling” verse and John's “everybody had a hard year” alternate verse sung simultaneously. Both of these alternate verses are four measures long this time around, John omitting his “oh yeah” repeats at the conclusion of the first verse of this set. For the first two measures of these verses, George continues his lead guitar ad libs but then, when it's realized that the dual lead vocals are the primary focus, discontinues this exercise in futility and reverts to his standard verse guitar playing as heard earlier in the song.
Next comes a seven-measure alternate bridge, which inadvertently works as the song's conclusion. The first two measures of the previous alternate bridge is repeated three times in this instance, Paul exclaiming “I've got a feeling” three times within the proceedings along with one “oh yeah” from John. The seventh measure consists of a cymbal-crashing end to the song, followed up by a fast snare drum roll from Ringo and an impromptu characteristic “oh my soul...so hard” from John.
“I've Got A Feeling” was first released in the US on the “Let It Be” soundtrack album on May 18th, 1970. It was distributed in a gate-fold jacket in America, as opposed to the box set with photo book that was released in the UK. It spent four weeks in the top spot of the Billboard album chart and has sold well over four million copies in America alone.
Despite having a red Apple Records label, the “Let It Be” album was distributed by United Artists Records upon initial release and was eventually dropped from their roster a few years later. While Capitol kept all other US Beatles albums in print throughout the 70's, “Let It Be” was the only LP from the group that wasn't legitimately available for a number of years. This was rectified in 1978, however, when Capitol Records purchased the UA catalog and re-released the album once again, this time in a standard single sleeve cover. The album first appeared on compact disc on October 10th, 1987, and then as a remastered CD on September 9th, 2009.
The above mentioned January 22nd, 1969 rendition of “I've Got A Feeling,” as also featured on both proposed “Get Back” albums, was included on the compilation album “Anthology 3” that came out on October 18th, 1996. This release went 3x Platinum and was the third double-album in a row from The Beatles that made it to #1 on the Billboard album charts.
November 17th, 2003, was the release date for “Let It Be...Naked,” an album, a project that was proposed by Paul McCartney to strip away all overdubs and present the material as they originally intended. Both rooftop performances of “I've Got A Feeling” from January 30th, 1969 were edited together to create the perfect non-overdubbed rendition of the song possible.
November 17th, 2009, was the release date for “Good Evening New York City,” a live Paul McCartney album culled from his appearances at Citi Field in New York City in July of that year. “I've Got A Feeling” was performed during these shows and appears on the album. A live rendition of the song was also featured on his July 12th, 2019 album “Amoeba Gig,” this live performance being recorded on June 27th, 2007 at Amoeba Music in Hollywood, California.
“I've Got A Feeling” was one of the last five songs that The Beatles ever performed live as a group. This event was staged on the roof of their Apple Building on Savile Row in London on January 30th, 1969. It was performed twice on this chilly afternoon, the first version featured on both the “Let It Be” film and soundtrack album. Sections of the second version were edited with the first for inclusion on the “Let It Be...Naked” album as detailed above.
Also included in the “Let It Be” movie were sections of rehearsals of the song that took place at Twickenham Film Studios on January 8th and 9th, filmed footage from both of these days being edited together. As outlined above, this footage reveals that the arrangement was already very close to what they stuck with throughout the month, Paul instructing John how to perform the bending guitar note at the end of the bridge being featured in the film as well.
In McCartney's solo touring years, he continued to mine the Beatles' catalog for songs to be learned by his band and featured on stage. By the time of his “2004 Summer Tour,” he decided to include “I've Got A Feeling,” this tour stretching from May 25th (Gijon, Spain) to June 26th (Pilton, England) of 2004. “The 'US' Tour” of 2005 also included the song, which began on September 16th (Miami, Florida) and concluded on November 30th (Los Angeles, California) of that year. His “Summer Live '09” tour featured it as well, this running from July 17th (New York City) to August 19th (Arlington, Texas) of 2009. A little later that same year, Paul's “Good Evening Europe” tour continued use of “I've Got A Feeling” on stage, this tour stretching from December 2nd (Hamburg, Germany) to December 22nd (London, England) of 2009.
Next came his “Up And Coming Tour,” Paul performing the song from March 28th, 2010 (Glendale, Arizona) to June 10th, 2011 (Las Vegas, Nevada). Next came his “On The Run” tour, which ran from July 15th, 2011 (New York City) to November 29th, 2012 (Edmonton, Canada). His “One On One” tour also included the song, this tour stretching from April 13th, 2016 (Fresno, California) to December 16th, 2017 (Aukland, New Zealand). Then came his “Freshen Up” tour, “I've Got A Feeling” being played from September 17th, 2018 (Quebec City, Canada) to July 13th, 2019 (Los Angeles, California).
These live performances has Paul switching to electric guitar, playing John Lennon's original part throughout except for the bending guitar note at the end of the bridge, this being played by guitarist Rusty Anderson. Rusty also sings John's “everybody had a hard year...” vocal part along with drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. After the song concludes, Paul got into the habit of re-starting the song with a similar guitar riff but in a faster tempo, this becoming a vehicle for him to play some lead guitar on stage while exclaiming “I've got a feeling” a few times here and there. All in all, this makes for a very energetic hard-rocking version of the song.
John Lennon had many times gone on record saying he thought of The Beatles as strictly a rock and roll band. He proudly recounted their early days at The Cavern and in Hamburg as the pinnacle of their career. When Paul offered up ballads and nostalgic pastiches for them to record, John acquiesced but ultimately it wore on his patience.
As Lennon entered into the January rehearsals for what became the “Let It Be” project, their agreed-upon policy of getting back to basics with no overdubs appealed to him. He got together with Paul days before to put together a rocking song called “I've Got A Feeling” which would specifically display The Beatles in the light that John wanted. As the rehearsals progressed, similar heavy songs were offered up, such as “Get Back,” “Don't Let Me Down,” “Dig A Pony” and “One After 909.” As witnessed on the rooftop concert at the end of the month, John Lennon was in his glory performing these songs with his band.
However, his band-mates kept offering up compositions with arrangements that were anything but rockers. Paul proudly brought in “Let It Be,” “The Long And Winding Road” and “Maxwell's Silver Hammer,” while George offered “All Things Must Pass,” “Hear Me Lord” and “I Me Mine,” all of which John objected to. It just wasn't what he wanted to do. It's not hard to see why he lost interest in The Beatles shortly after this month was over, immersing himself into his activities with Yoko and forming his new musical project, The Plastic Ono Band. He reluctantly agreed to return to the studio to record one final album with The Beatles later that year, but his heart was elsewhere. He thereby announced that he wanted “a divorce” from the band and the rest is history.
When one listens to “I've Got A Feeling,” however, we can witness that the spark was still there. John was happy! He was in his element! The Beatles were his rock and roll band, just like he always wanted! He had hope for the future of his group! His band-mates may have been expanding their musical tastes into different directions, but The Beatles could still rock with the best of them!
“I've Got A Feeling”
Written by: John Lennon / Paul McCartney
- Song Written: December, 1968
- Song Recorded: January 30, 1969
- First US Release Date: May 18, 1970
- First US Album Release: Apple #AR-34001 “Let It Be”
- British Album Release: Apple #PCS 7096 “Let It Be”
- US Single Release: n/a
- Highest Chart Position: n/a
- Length: 3:38
- Key: A major
- Producer: George Martin, Phil Spector
- Engineers: Glyn Johns, Alan Parsons
Instrumentation (most likely):
- Paul McCartney - Lead Vocals, Bass (1963 Hofner 500/1)
- John Lennon - Lead and Harmony Vocals, Rhythm Guitar (1965 Epiphone ES- 230TD Casino)
- George Harrison - Lead Guitar (1968 Fender Rosewood Telecaster), backing vocals
- Ringo Starr - Drums (1968 Ludwig Hollywood Maple)
- Billy Preston - Electric Piano (1968 Fender Rhodes Seventy-Three Sparkle Top)
Written and compiled by Dave Rybaczewski
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