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Learning songs on my banjo: Feelin' Good

Posted by jrjenks on Friday, November 13, 2009

All the money in the world spent on feelin' good

Hello, J.R.

Hello, imaginary interviewer. Thanks for this opportunity.

You've earned it. What banjo song are you learning right now?

Feelin' Good.

Why are you learning Feelin' Good?

This is one of the songs that I'll be playing as part of the Brass Note Jug Band on Saturday 11/14/2009 at Chicago's Second Annual Battle of the Jug Bands. Our instrumentation will be:

  • Arlo - guitar
  • Jacob - guitar, voice
  • Jim J. - jug
  • Jim S. - mandolin
  • J.R. - banjo

What recordings do you have of Feelin' Good?

  1. Levon Helm played it on his 2008 CD Dirt Farmer, which was a 2008 Grammy winner for Best Traditional Folk Album. He played it at 110 BPM in the key of G. You can listen to it for free here or see it on YouTube.

  2. J.B. Lenoir sang Feelin' Good in the 1950s. It was included in the 2002 album Passionate Blues and you can preview it by following that link.

What tab arrangements do you have?

I have the lead sheet that the Hump Night Thumpers posted on the songs section of their site.

After discussing it with my instructor, David, I'm going to just mess around on the jazz pentatonic...



and throw in a little string-bending.

What's your target performance speed?

110 BPM, since the rest of the band is practicing along with the Levon Helm recording. I don't think I need to follow the practice-at-20%-faster rule. Rather, I need to make sure that my groove is slow and steady.

In what key and what tuning?

Gizmo (Jacob Fishman) wants to sing it in G, just like Levon Helm. So that'd just be the basic g'dgbd' banjo tuning.

Which lyrics are you learning?

Same as Levon Helm. Though as I noted, Gizmo will be singing. I think he's going to have his daughter join him on stage for this song.

Anything else you'd like to tell me about this song?

Don't confuse this song with J.B. Lenoir's better-known I Feel So Good, which is all over YouTube.

Cross-posted at J.R. Jenks' blog


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