Feel It Still

Album: Woodstock (2017)
Charted: 3 4

Songfacts®:

  • Released as the second single from Woodstock, this topped the Adult Alternative chart, becoming Portugal. The Man's first #1 on any Billboard listing.
  • Frontman John Gourley told the story of the song to Genius:

    "I picked up this bass and started playing this bass line. Our friend Asa Taccone was back there hanging out, and he heard the bass line. He had heard something in that, so he had me track this bass line. As I'm doing it, he's like, 'Yeah, you got another part in there, you got like a bridge for me?' I was like, 'Yeah, sure I go this line.'

    It's just the way songs should happen, in my opinion. Laid down some scratch vocals, just a rough vocal, which is actually, I'm pretty sure, that's what's on the performance too. The first two verses are just from that session."
  • Can't keep my hands to myself
    Think I'll dust 'em off, put 'em back up on the shelf
    In case my little baby girl is in need
    Am I coming out of left field?


    Gourley explained: "I have a little daughter named Francis. She's five years old now. Over the course of this album, she's obviously been growing up. She was two and a half, three years old when we started working on this record. Her growing up's been a huge part of this record, and I think this song especially, some of that stuff just kind of seeped into the lyrics as I was writing."
  • The song's sales and streaming figures were boosted by its appearance in Apple iPad Pro's "On Any Given Wednesday" ad.
  • Asked by Billboard magazine about the line "I'm a rebel just for kicks now," John Gourley explained it was inspired by Bernie Sanders:

    "I think the lyric reflects the way a lot of us feel. It came out of this George Carlin quote, which was something we had talked about quite a bit within our circle of friends. George Carlin would talk about politics and religion but in the same breath he'd also mention he doesn't vote, doesn't trust politicians or religion.

    It comes down to the way our political parties work where it's basically football teams. If you're not on Team Trump, you're on Team Hillary and it's such a ridiculous way to look at politics and to look at the way we're voting. I'll talk s--t all day long but at the end of the day I don't want to vote for anybody. I don't feel strongly for either one of those people. So many of my friends were for Bernie all the way and said, 'If he doesn't get it, I'm not voting.' It's a ridiculous process. The fact at all that Bernie had to run as a Democrat is kind of what the song is about."
  • The vocal melody on this track kicks it like it's 1961, interpolating the Marvelettes hit "Please Mr. Postman":

    Ooh woo, I'm a rebel just for kicks, now...

    Oh yes, wait a minute Mister Postman...


    John Gourley told Billboard magazine: "Anytime you borrow - or, should I say, buy - the melody from 'Please Mr. Postman,' I feel like it should work."
  • Asked by NME about the lyrical inspiration behind the track, bassist Zach Carothers replied:

    "Things often start off kinda like automatic writing. Words that sound good and feel right to us. It's very subconscious in the beginning and as we fine tune things we learn a lot about ourselves and how our brains work. It's kinda crazy. Like a Rorschach Ink Blot Test.

    Generally inspired by a couple specific sea changes that mean a lot to us. 1966 - Civil rights movements, war protest and LSD testing. 1986 - first finding out about New York hip-hop. License To Ill. 'Fight for Your Right to Party.' Essentially a rebel just for kicks."
  • The music video features a striking image of a Sikh man burning a newspaper version of the fake news website Infowars, which is run by conspiracy theorist and radio show host Alex Jones. The band was unaware, at the time the visual was filmed, of Jones' fervent following.

    "We got death threats. He did a five-minute segment on us on his show, two days before we started a tour in Boise, Idaho," guitarist Eric Howk told The Independent. "That is a gun-slinging, conservative red state. It's one of the reddest cities. You kept your eyes open a little bit more out there. But I'm not giving any power to some jagoff [stupid person] on the internet."
  • This song accomplished the rare feat of appealing to both kids and their parents. The dance groove and inspirational lyric gave it cachet with the younger generation, and older folks (and the band's core fans) appreciated the live instruments and reference to 1986, acknowledging relevance of the music they grew up with.
  • The director David Javier and choreographer Brian Friedman made two additional videos for this song featuring child dancers, including Maddie Ziegler, who starred in Sia's videos for "Chandelier" and "Elastic Heart." A number of other videos with dance troupes performing to the song also appeared, some of which got over a million views on YouTube.
  • After this song took off the band started selling T-shirts on their website that read: "I liked Portugal. The Man before they sold out."
  • The track spent several months atop Billboard's Alternative Songs airplay chart. When it logged its 20th week at the summit on December 9, 2017, "Feel It Still" became the longest-running #1 in the chart's history, overtaking Muse's "Madness," which ruled for 19 weeks in 2012 and 2013.
  • John Gourley cobbled together the song in just 45 minutes, He recalled to Time:

    "'Feel It Still' was not even a song we were working on that day. We were working on mixing 'Live In The Moment' in one room at the studio, and I needed to take a break and give my ears a rest. So I stepped into this side room, and I just started playing that bass line. And luckily Asa [Taccone] from Electric Guest was in that room working on something else. It's a weird thing for other artists to be in the studio with you. But I'm so happy he was there. He heard that bass line, and he just took his headphones off and said to me, 'Yo J, can I record that real quick?' I was caught off guard, so I said 'Yeah, sure, let's see what you got.' And he handed me a microphone and said 'Hey man, do you have any lyrics?' I had this 'rebel just for kicks' line in my head for a while.

    I was trying to think of a bridge and [Taccone] picked up the mic and was in my face and started saying, 'Is it coming... is it coming...' and that's where it came from: it was just Asa in my face trying to get me to write a bridge. The whole thing was just 45 minutes at the end of the day."
  • This won for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the Grammy Awards in 2018.

Comments: 2

  • Susan from NcSome of the best songs are written this way. They seem to come from the heart and soul.
  • Cristy from Jxn, Ms Riiiiiight... And the Easter Bunny helped me solve a mean Sudoku puzzle.
see more comments

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