The Byrds

I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better

Composed by Gene Clark

Song Review by

From the first peals of Jim McGuinn's 12-string Rickenbacker, "Feel a Whole Lot Better" bears all the trademarks of the Byrds' trailblazing blend of folk and rock, but it also has the distinction of being the first tune written by a member of the band to make a dent in the marketplace. While the group's first two hits, "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "All I Really Want to Do," had been penned by Bob Dylan, and their biggest single, "Turn! Turn! Turn!," was adapted from a passage in the book of Ecclesiastes by Pete Seeger, "Feel a Whole Lot Better" was written by Gene Clark, who would prove to be the strongest songwriter in the group during his short tenure with the band. The tune was originally released as the B-side to the single of "All I Really Want to Do," but eventually earned enough airplay to become a regional hit in its own right (though on the national charts, it narrowly missed the Billboard Top 100, peaking at 103). Not unlike some of the Dylan tunes the Byrds popularized, "Feel a Whole Lot Better" takes a sardonic view of romance, as Clark ponders breaking off his relationship with a woman who hasn't been entirely honest with him. But he also is willing to suggest that he's partly to blame as well, and Clarks's choice of words -- "I'll probably feel a whole lot better when you're gone" -- indicates that this break-up isn't a quick fix or an easy answer, giving a depth of subtext that was unusual for a pop group at the time. "Feel a Whole Lot Better" also boasts a graceful, rising melodic structure that certainly suits the Byrds' instrumental approach (particularly McGuinn's guitar), and Clark's lead vocal is solid and resonant, supporting the emotional intricacies of the lyrics without overplaying his hand (with the group's supporting harmonies sounding especially impressive here). Tom Petty was one artist who obviously learned more than a little from the Byrds' impressive early hits, and he offered up a faithful and enthusiastic cover of "Feel a Whole Lot Better" on his 1989 album Full Moon Fever.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Mr. Tambourine Man 1965 Legacy / Columbia 2:34
The Byrds' Greatest Hits 1967 Columbia / Legacy 2:32
The Byrds 1973 Asylum 0:00
Original Singles, Vol. 1 (1965-1967) 1980 Columbia 2:32
20 Essential Tracks from the Boxed Set: 1965-1990 1991 Columbia / Legacy 2:31
Definitive Collection 1995 Columbia 2:33
American Dreamer 1964-1974 1997 Raven 2:33
Ultimate Byrds 1998 Legacy / Columbia 2:31
Take Two 2001 Sony Music Distribution 2:33
The Essential Byrds 2003 Columbia / Legacy 2:32
The Collection [Sony] 2004 Sony Music Distribution 2:33
Sixties Rock 2004
Various Artists
Passport Audio
Set You Free: Gene Clark in the Byrds 1964-1973 2004 Raven 2:33
Very Best of the Byrds [2006] 2006 Sony Music Distribution
There Is a Season 2006 Legacy / Columbia / Sony BMG 2:34
Sugar, Sugar: 60s Pop 2007
Various Artists
Sony BMG 2:33
The 60s: The Byrds 2014 BMG / Sony Music Entertainment 2:33
The Broadcast Archive 2017 The Broadcast Archive 2:30
Eight Miles High: The Best Of The Byrds Camden / Camden International 2:33
No Image Sony Music Distribution 2:35