In 1961, the little-known British song-writing duo Newley and Bricusse penned a song that has become a jazz standard: “Feelin’ Good.” As is often the case, the song was part of a now forgotten musical, Stop the World – I Want to Get Off, which debuted in London and ran in New York for only 555 performances. The hit song, however, has become a much-loved anthem to resilience and the promise of better days ahead.
The thing that strikes me about the lyrics of this song is its appeal to nature and common creatures as the basis for the experience of “feeling good.” The song is not about the emotion of feeling good because of one’s possessions or changed circumstances or relationships, but simply from the possibility of a “new dawn, (and) a new day.” The birds, the breeze, the fish, the river, the stars, and a host of other parts of creation “know how I feel,” because they are doing what they were created to do . . . fly, blow, swim, flow, and shine. That’s the formula for freedom and feeling good.
Sleep in peace and wake to a new world every morning.
Sounds a lot like these verses that most of us have probably memorized: “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:21-23)
There is a song that the Trinity sings: sing along. There is a dance in all of creation: find your steps. There is a freedom that comes from covenant inclusion: rest in His presence. Be who you were called and created to be. Enjoy that feeling. Take your cue from nature this week. Get outside and see what you can find to add to Bricusse’s list of “feelin’ good” moments.
These four versions of the song Feelin’ Good each use the same basic arrangement – similar swing rhythm and (except for the Muse version) a brass/strings instrumentation – but each musician creates a version that reflects his or her unique personality. Which one is your favourite?
1965 hit version
British Rock Band
Bonus . . . just for fun, compare these two John Coltrane versions of the song
Feeling Good, Standards, 2001 compilation
Alternate Version, The Classic Quartet – The Complete Impulse! Recordings
Disc 8: Works in Progress