I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better

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"I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better" is a song by the Los Angeles folk rock band the Byrds, first released in June 1965 on the B-side of the band's second single, "All I Really Want to Do".[1] Despite initially being released as a B-side, the song managed to chart in its own right in the U.S., just outside the Billboard Hot 100.[2][3] It was also included on the Byrds' debut album, Mr. Tambourine Man.[1]

"I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better"
The Byrds - All I Really Feel A Whole Lot.jpg
1965 Dutch picture sleeve
Single by the Byrds
from the album Mr. Tambourine Man
A-side"All I Really Want to Do"
ReleasedJune 14, 1965 (1965-06-14)
RecordedApril 14, 1965
StudioColumbia, Hollywood, California
GenreFolk rock, pop
Songwriter(s)Gene Clark
Producer(s)Terry Melcher
The Byrds singles chronology
"Mr. Tambourine Man"
"I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better"
"Turn! Turn! Turn!"
Music video
"I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better" (audio) on YouTube

The song was written by band member Gene Clark, who also sings the lead vocal.[2] "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better" has been covered by a number of different artists over the years, and is regarded by fans and critics as one of the Byrds' best known songs.[4]

Composition and contentEdit

The song dates from the Byrds' pre-fame residency at Ciro's nightclub in Los Angeles, as Clark explained during an interview: "There was a girlfriend I had known at the time, when we were playing at Ciro's. It was a weird time in my life because everything was changing so fast and I knew we were becoming popular. This girl was a funny girl, she was kind of a strange little girl and she started bothering me a lot. And I just wrote the song, 'I'm gonna feel a whole lot better when you're gone,' and that's all it was, but I wrote the whole song within a few minutes."[4]

Byrds expert Tim Conners has called the song "the Platonic ideal of a Byrds song", in reference to the presence of some of the band's early musical trademarks, including Jim McGuinn's jangling 12-string Rickenbacker guitar; Chris Hillman's complex bass work; David Crosby's propulsive rhythm guitar, and the band's complex harmony singing and use of wordless "aaahhhh"s.[5] Band biographer Johnny Rogan has also commented on the song's country-influenced guitar solo.[2]

The song is built around a riff that Clark later admitted was based on the Searchers' cover of "Needles and Pins".[4] Music critic Mark Deming has said that, lyrically, "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better" takes a sardonic view of romance, with Clark undecided about whether to break off a relationship with a woman who hasn't been entirely honest with him.[6] The song's refrain of "I'll probably feel a whole lot better when you're gone" betrays Clark's uncertainty about ending the relationship and whether such an act would be the answer to his problems or not.[6][4]

Deming has also pointed out that the use of the word "probably" in this refrain is key and lends the track a depth of subtext that was unusual for a pop song in the mid-1960s.[6] Jim Dickson, the Byrds' manager, has remarked that this level of subtext was not unusual in Clark's songs of the period. Said Dickson, "There was always something to unravel in those songs, the non-explanation of the complex feeling. For instance, if you remember I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better, it doesn't say: "I'll feel a whole lot better", but "I'll probably feel a whole lot better." For me, that makes the song. There's a statement followed by a hesitation."[2] Dickson would later work as a producer on Clark's 1984 album Firebyrd, which featured a re-recorded version of "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better".[2]


Although it was initially released as the B-side of the "All I Really Want to Do" single, "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better" was itself heavily promoted by Columbia Records during the time that "All I Really Want to Do" spent on the Billboard charts.[2] As a result, the song managed to chart in its own right in the U.S., reaching number 103.[2] Mark Deming has commented that "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better" was the first song written by a member of the Byrds to be commercially successful.[6]

Since its release, the song has become a rock music standard, inspiring a number of cover versions over the years.[7] It is also considered by many critics to be one of the band's, as well as Clark's, best and most popular songs, with Rolling Stone magazine ranking it at number 234 on their list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[4][8]

Cover versionsEdit

"Feel a Whole Lot Better"
Single by Tom Petty
from the album Full Moon Fever
Released24 April 1989
GenreFolk rock, power pop
Producer(s)Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Mike Campbell

Tom Petty covered the song (as "Feel a Whole Lot Better") on his 1989 solo album, Full Moon Fever.[6] Petty's version was released as the fourth single from the album and peaked at number 18 on the US Rock chart.

Don Nix on his 1976 album Gone Too Long with George Harrison, retitled "Feel a Whole Lot Better".

In 1978, country singer Bobby Bare covered the song on his album Sleeper Wherever I Fall.[9] San Francisco band The Flamin' Groovies also released a cover of the song on their 1978 Sire Records release, Flamin' Groovies Now.[10] Paisley Underground band The Three O'Clock covered the song on their Baroque Hoedown EP. Reportedly, Gene Clark sings backing vocal on this version of the song.[11]

Argentinian rock musician Charly García covered the song on his 1990 album, Filosofía Barata y Zapatos de Goma. The track was named "Me Siento Mucho Mejor" and the lyrics were translated into Spanish.[12]

Country pop artist Juice Newton covered the song on her 1985 Old Flame album but the song is slightly retitled as "Feel a Whole Lot Better".[13] Newton's version also alters some of the song's verse lyrics. Likewise, The Crust Brothers covered the song on their 1998 live album, Marquee Mark, under this slightly altered title.[14]

Johnny Rivers covered the song in 1973 on his Blue Suede Shoes album and the song was also included on his 2006 compilation album, Secret Agent Man: The Ultimate Johnny Rivers Anthology.[15][16]

Dinosaur Jr. did a grungy cover on the Byrds tribute album, Time Between – A Tribute to The Byrds.[17] Reportedly, this version was Gene Clark's favorite cover of the song because he felt that the band had captured the essence of the lyrics, but successfully made the music even more uptempo.[citation needed]

Marty Stuart's 2017 album Way Out West features a mash-up of "I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better" and some original Stuart lyrics. Not only that but the album was produced by Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, who also plays guitars on the track as he did on Petty's version from Full Moon Fever.


  1. ^ a b Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. pp. 543–545. ISBN 0-9529540-1-X.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. pp. 82–84. ISBN 0-9529540-1-X.
  3. ^ Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. p. 560. ISBN 0-9529540-1-X.
  4. ^ a b c d e Einarson, John. (2005). Mr. Tambourine Man: The Life and Legacy of The Byrds' Gene Clark. Backbeat Books. p. 65. ISBN 0-87930-793-5.
  5. ^ "Mr. Tambourine Man". ByrdWatcher: A Field Guide to the Byrds of Los Angeles. Archived from the original on 2010-01-11. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
  6. ^ a b c d e "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
  7. ^ "I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better cover versions". AllMusic. Archived from the original on October 12, 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-21.
  8. ^ "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2006-10-25. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
  9. ^ "Sleeper Wherever I Fall review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
  10. ^ "Flamin' Groovies Now review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
  11. ^ "Gene Clark-related records". Byrds Flyght. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
  12. ^ "Filosofía Barata y Zapatos de Goma review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2010-04-30.
  13. ^ "Old Flame review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
  14. ^ "The Crust Brothers: Marquee Mark". The Band web site. Retrieved 2009-10-18.
  15. ^ "Johnny Rivers Discography: 1970 – Present". Johnny Rivers – Official Website. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
  16. ^ "Secret Agent Man review". Pandora Internet Radio. Retrieved 2009-12-01.
  17. ^ "Time Between – A Tribute to The Byrds review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2010-04-28.

External linksEdit