379 to 50: #20 “I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better” by The Byrds

Byrds Feel

Moving into the top 20 of my favourite songs list now, courtesy of The Byrds’ joyful, jangle pop pioneering “I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better” from 1965.

Reviewing my song choice #24 I described Kraftwerk as the electronic Beatles, and the closest to an American Beatles would undoubtedly be the Byrds, even down to the purposely mis-spelt name.  Nomenclature aside, it’s their near instant popular appeal followed by rapid musical evolution that makes the Byrds analogous to the Fab Four.  Even by 60s standards, the Byrds’ output of 6 classic albums in 4 years (from 1965’s “Mr Tambourine Man” to 1968’s “Sweetheart Of The Rodeo”) is a breath-taking run, basically inventing or playing a massive part in the birth of folk rock, jangly guitars, psych rock and country rock along the way. Inspiring fellow LA bands like Love and Buffalo Springfield, plus boasting the Beatles as firm friends and supporters, the Byrds sound is seen as a key influence on “Rubber Soul”, particularly “Nowhere Man” and “If I Needed Someone”.

Byrds photo 1

With such a legacy, the Byrds are another band where I’m spoilt for choice in picking a favourite song – and it’s especially tough to leave out “Eight Miles High”, the early 1966 birth of psych rock (also the subject of one my favourite ever cover versions, by Husker Du.).   However, my choice had to be the proto-jangle pop of “I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better”.  With a sharp sparkly intro, chiming guitars underpinned by equally sunny percussion, all topped off by beautiful honeyed vocals, “I’ll Feel…” is a reliably refreshing record that always helps raise a smile when listening to its considerable charms.  Its obvious inspiration on countless formative bands of my youth, especially Teenage Fanclub and The Stone Roses, also helps explain my fondness for this song.

Byrds photo 2

“I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better” was taken from 1965 debut album “Mr Tambourine Man”, which was split fairly equally between Bob Dylan covers and original Byrds compositions, including this Gene Clark penned tour de force.  “I’ll Feel…” was also the B-side to “All I Really Want To Do”, a UK number 4 single that year.  The most prominent songwriter on early Byrds albums, Gene Clark left the group in the run-up to third album “Fifth Dimension”, partly due to stress related factors, but also partly due to his fear of flying, increasingly difficult to manage with an ever growing itinerary – leading fellow band member David Crosby to state “if you can’t fly, you can’t be a Byrd”.  Gene Clark would however continue to produce sumptuous records of outstanding genius in a somewhat haphazard (and underappreciated at the time) career; we’ll be hearing more about that later in this rundown…



One thought on “379 to 50: #20 “I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better” by The Byrds

  1. Pingback: Jumping Fences To Wichita: my 100 favourite songs | No Longer Teenage Fan Club

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