Joe Cocker – Feelin’ Alright

Dave Mason wrote this song and recorded it with  Traffic in 1968. Included on their self-titled second album, it was released as a single but it didn’t hit the charts in America and didn’t place at all in the UK.

The following year, Joe Cocker recorded what has become the most popular version of the song, peaking at #33 in Billboard 100 in 1972 with a more upbeat rendition. He included it in his set at Woodstock.

Joe Cocker did great covers of songs. Many of Cocker’s hits were covers, including “With A Little Help From My Friends,” “The Letter,” and “You Are So Beautiful.” He made a career out of soulful interpretations of other people’s songs. When Paul McCartney wrote “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window” he gave it to Joe Cocker to record.


From Songfacts

This is one of those songs where the title belies the meaning. The singer is tormented by a breakup and asking “Are you feeling alright,” with the retort, “I’m not feelin’ too good myself.”

In our interview with Dave Mason, he explained: “It’s just a song about a girl. It’s just another relationship gone bad.”

Dave Mason wrote this song with the title “Not Feelin’ Too Good Myself,” which is more accurate in terms of the song’s meaning, but less marketable. The original Traffic version of the song, filled with the corresponding melancholy, was issued as “Feelin’ Alright?” – the question mark providing a vital clue to the content. Joe Cocker’s version scrapped the punctuation and was issued as “Feeling Alright,” which is how it was listed on most subsequent covers.

This song was written while Dave Mason was visiting the Greek island of Hydra. “I was trying to write the simplest thing I could come up with,” he told us. “Two chords was it.”

Mason had left the band when he wrote the song (he split before their first album was released), but when he returned to New York after his time in Hydra, he ran into his bandmates, who were working on the group’s second album. They reached an accord, and Mason came back into the fold, contributing this song and “You Can All Join In,” as well as “Vagabond Virgin,” which he wrote with the band’s drummer Jim Capaldi.

Soon after the album was released in October 1968, Mason once again left the band, and a month later they broke up, with Winwood forming Blind Faith. In 1969, a third Traffic album called Last Exit was cobbled together from live recordings and unused studio tracks.

Traffic lead singer Steve Winwood played on Joe Cocker’s With A Little Help From My Friends album, but not on his cover of this song, which was on the tracklist. Cocker’s version featured the ace Los Angeles bass player Carol Kaye, Paul Humphrey on drums, Artie Butler on piano, and percussion from David Cohen and Laudir de Oliveira.

A distinguishing feature of Cocker’s cover is the female backing vocals, which were comprised of three of the most powerful Soul singers of the era: Brenda Holloway, Merry Clayton and Patrice Holloway. Clayton can also be heard on the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.”

At least 45 different acts have recorded this song. Mongo Santamaria took it to #96 US in 1969, and Grand Funk Railroad made #54 with their 1971 version. Other artists to record it include Three Dog Night, Lou Rawls, the 5th Dimension, Rare Earth, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Paul Weller, the Jackson 5, Maceo Parker and Isaac Hayes.

In 1976, Cocker performed this on Saturday Night Live. John Belushi joined him on stage doing his famous impersonation of Cocker’s spastic stage movements. Cocker didn’t know Belushi was going to come on stage, but wondered what was going on when John asked him before the show what he would be wearing during the performance.

The song found a good home on the various FM rock formats of the early ’70s, and Joe Cocker’s version later became a classic rock staple. In 1972, after Grand Funk Railroad charted with the song, Cocker’s was re-released, this time making #33 US.

Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill of ZZ Top, Keith Richards, Kid Rock, Tom Petty, Jackson Browne, Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood, and music director Paul Shaffer performed this at the 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

The Jackson 5 performed part of this song on a 1971 TV special hosted by Diana Ross. Nine years later, Michael Jackson sang on Dave Mason’s track “Save Me.”

Feelin’ Alright

Seems I got to have a change of scene
‘Cause every night I have the strangest dreams
Imprisoned by the way it could have been
Left here on my own or so it seems
I got to leave before I start to scream
But someone’s locked the door and took the key

You feelin’ alright?
I’m not feelin’ too good myself
Well, you feelin’ alright?
I’m not feelin’ too good myself

Boy you sure took me for one big ride
Even now I sit and wonder why
And when I think of you I start myself to cry out
I just can’t waste my time, I must keep dry
Gotta stop believin’ in all your lies
‘Cause there’s too much to do before I die, hey

You feelin’ alright?
I’m not feelin’ too good myself
You feelin’ alright?
I’m not feelin’ too good

Don’t get too lost in all I say
Though at the time I really felt that way
But that was then, and now you know it’s today
I can’t get off, I guess I’m here to stay
‘Til someone comes along and takes my place, yeah
With a different name, oh, and a different face
You feelin’ alright?
I’m not feelin’ too good myself
Yeah, not feeling too good myself
Oh, woah, I’m not, well I’m not feeling good myself
You can turn away, feeling, almighty I’m not feeling too good myself


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

24 thoughts on “Joe Cocker – Feelin’ Alright”

  1. I think the version they released was from the “Mad Dogs And Englishmen” tour he did with Leon Russell in ’69 and ’70. They filmed the tour and released it as a movie. If you get the chance, it’s an interesting film.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gotta admit, I’ve never been much of a fan of Joe Cocker but this is one song of his I like quite a bit. I didn’t know it wasn’t an original (though I guess all his well-known songs were covers so I shouldn’t be surprised.)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I appreciate the background info on the song. It’s amazing how many have covered it. I remember that SNL where Belushi mimicked Cocker. So funny John asked him beforehand what he was going to wear.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yea have noticed some glitchy things happen. I have posted something and it doesn’t show up in any reader…I repost it…same thing…finally I have to change the name of the post…even then it doesn’t show at times.


    1. Paul McCartney hired Belushi for 10 grand to do his Cocker skit for his birthday party back then…he sounded great.
      I saw Joe open up for Tina Turner…it was good.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It had to help him get noticed and remembered. You know when I saw him in the early 2000’s he wasn’t as active of course…but he still did a small version of it.
      I think most of it was natural but how much he played it is hard to tell.


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