Feelin' Alright

Album: Traffic (1968)
Charted: 123


  • Dave Mason wrote this song and recorded it with his group Traffic in 1968. Included on their self-titled second album, it was released as a single but barely nicked the charts, bubbling under at #123 in America and not placing at all in the UK. The following year, Joe Cocker recorded what has become the most popular version of the song, taking it to #69 in the US with a more upbeat rendition. He included it in his rain-soaked set at Woodstock.

    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.
  • 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."

Comments: 19

  • Sandy from Vancouver, CanadaI watched Dave Mason at Richards on Richards after MNF and he did a fantastic set which included some Traffic stuff. Beautiful version of Sleepwalk was also included. $5.00 entry because I was already seated after the football game. Amazing!!!
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 14th 1970, Derek and the Dominos appeared in concert for the first time when they performed at the Lyceum Theatre in London, England...
    They played a set list of five songs; "Blues Power", "Bottle of Red Wine", "Cross Road Blues", "Spoonful", and "Feelin' Alright"*...
    Just under five months later on November 9th, 1970 the group's only album, "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs", was released and eventually it peaked at #16 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart...
    * Dave Mason accompanied the band on "Feelin' Alright", the song was composed by Dave Mason and originally recorded by Traffic, of which he was a member.
  • Doug from Boston, MaThe story behind the piano hook from the Joe Cocker version is told by Artie Butler here: http://www.artiebutler.com/feelin.html

    I always thought it was Leon Russell too, since Leon put together the Mad Dogs and Englishmen band, but no, it comes from the studio record. It is surprising that Steve Winwood was actually on that record, but not the Traffic cover. Artie Butler was very proud of the piano hook, and rightfully so. Although I love the Traffic version, I also love it when another act re-interprets a song in an original way.

    Oh, and to answer Jim, Winwood was the only member of Traffic to guest appear on Cocker's "A Little Help From My Friends" album. But Jimmy Page and Albert Lee contributed as well.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 27th 1969, Joe Cocker and the Grease Band performed "Feelin' Alright" on the CBS-TV program 'The Ed Sullivan Show'...
    (See next post below concerning chart info).
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 2nd, 1972, "Feelin' Alright" by Joe Cocker entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and on February 6th it peaked at #33 (for 2 weeks) and spent 9 weeks on the Top 100...
    He originally charted with it three years earlier in 1969, at that time it reached #69 and stayed on the Top 100 for 6 weeks...
    The 1972 version was a 'live' version from his 'Mad Dogs and Englishmen' album...
    Two other covered versions have charted; Mongo Santamaria (#96 in 1969) and Grand Funk Railroad (#54 in 1971)...
    R.I.P. Mr. Santanmaria (1922 - 2003) and Mr. Cocker, born John Robert Cocker, will celebrate his 70th birthday this coming May 20th.
  • Gary from Sunderland, MaDidn't Leon Russell write the piano riff that sets Cocker's version apart from Traffic's?
  • Joel from Downs, KsI'm surprised that nobody has made this into a drug song. Not that I'm complaining. I have this on my I-pod and play it when I am really feeling down. In other words I play this song a lot along with It's Been A While by Stained.
  • Joel from Buffalo, NyThis particular Joe Cocker song was also featured on the medical drama "House".
  • Peter G. Brown from London, United KingdomJoe Cocker was only one of many people to record this song. It is a popular live song world wide in pubs and nitespots as it is easy to learn since it only has 2 chords, so easy to jam.
  • Scott from Boston, MaI like Traffic's original version better.
  • Juan from Buenos Aires, ArgentinaThis song belongs to Dave Mason (Traffic's gtr player). Maybe he played on Cocker's record.
  • Dave from Oak Park, MiAnd most important of all was that "Makeshift L.A. Studio Band", backing up Joe Cocker on his Mega-Hit, "Feelin' Alright"--accompanied by guitarist David Cohen, bassist Carol Kaye, drummer Paul Humphrey, percussionist Laudir de Oliveira, background vocalists Merry Clayton and Brenda & Patrice Holloway, and that's Artie Butler of HAVE YOU MET MISS JONES? fame, on piano; in-between his longtime duties as a music arranger for many other artists...
  • Luke from Manchester, EnglandIt's under Joe cocker because Joe cocker covered it
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaThis is faster then most Joe Cocker songs.
  • Jaym from The Dark Side Of The MoonWhy is this under Joe Cocker on songfacts? It should be under Traffic.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyBelushi's "dueling deuet" with Cocker took Joe totally by surprise and he (Cocker) didn't know what to make of it. After the show, Cocker was told that Belushi's imitation of him was one of the show's most popular bits, so Cocker took it as a compliment. When Paul McCartney was visiting Los Angeles in the late 1970's he called Belushi's manager to offer to pay for Belushi to come to LA and do his "Joe Cocker" bit at a party Paul was throwing. Belushi declined.

  • Rob from Vancouver, CanadaSaw him back up Stevie ray Vaughn......he was so good that SRV paled by comparison
  • Pete from Nowra, Australiasaw Joe when he came to Australia "absolutely bloody fantastic"
  • Jim from Rochester, NyI thought at least two members of Traffic played on Joe Cockers version? Anybody have the facts?
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