How To Play ‘Feeling Good’ – 5 Steps to Nail

Let’s journey back to 1965 for a moment. It’s the year when the world first heard a song that would become one of the most iconic and recognized tunes across genres – “Feeling Good” by the legendary Nina Simone. With its rich tapestry of sounds, evocative lyrics, and Nina’s incomparable voice, this song not only made waves in the music industry but also in the hearts of those who heard it. It’s that song that manages to capture an array of emotions – from triumphant exhilaration to soulful introspection. You’ve probably heard it on the radio, in movies, covered by your favorite artists, or even hummed it to yourself on a bright morning. Now, how about taking that love for the song a step further? How about learning to play it?

Whether you’re an experienced musician or someone who’s just starting out, “Feeling Good” offers a beautiful canvas to paint your musical ideas on. Its structure, while seeming simple, has layers that you can delve into and make your own. So, for everyone who’s ever tapped their feet to its rhythm or gotten lost in its melody, this guide is for you. We’ll break down “Feeling Good” and guide you step-by-step to not only play it but to feel it deep in your bones. Grab your instrument, warm up those fingers, and let’s dive right in!

1. Understand The Song’s Structure and Origin

Before diving into any song, it’s crucial to get familiar with its roots and structure. “Feeling Good” was originally written by English songwriters Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse for the musical “The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd”. While several artists have covered it, Nina Simone’s version is the most well-known and has become the standard against which all others are measured.

Song Structure:

  • Intro
  • Verse 1 (“Birds flying high…”)
  • Chorus (“It’s a new dawn…”)
  • Verse 2 (“Fish in the sea…”)
  • Chorus
  • Bridge (“Dragonfly out in the sun…”)
  • Verse 3 (“Stars when you shine…”)
  • Chorus
  • Outro

2. Get Familiar with the Chords

“Feeling Good” isn’t too complex in terms of chord progression, but like many jazz-inspired tunes, it has its fair share of rich chords.

Key Chords:

  • Dm: D – F – A
  • A7: A – C# – E – G
  • Gm: G – Bb – D
  • A: A – C# – E
  • Bb: Bb – D – F
  • C: C – E – G
  • F: F – A – C
  • E7: E – G# – B – D

For the exact progression and when to change chords, you’ll want to refer to sheet music or a trusted tablature site. Remember, practice transitioning between these chords smoothly to get the song’s flow.

3. Dive into the Rhythmic Patterns

One of the song’s hallmarks is its rhythmic variation. It has a mix of slow, soulful sections and more upbeat parts.


  • For the verses, maintain a gentle, jazzy strumming or plucking pattern that captures the song’s laid-back feel.
  • During the chorus, when the energy picks up, switch to a more assertive and rhythmic pattern to elevate the mood.

Listening to Nina’s version repeatedly will give you a clear idea of these transitions and the accompanying rhythm.

4. Master the Vocal Melody (Optional)

If you’re a vocalist or play a melodic instrument (like a flute or violin), you’ll want to get the melody down pat. “Feeling Good” is a masterclass in vocal dynamics and expression.


  • Pay close attention to Nina’s phrasing. Notice where she elongates notes and where she adds a touch of vibrato.
  • Emulate her style but don’t be afraid to add your personal touch. The song lends itself well to improvisation.

5. Bring It All Together and Add Your Flavor

Now that you’ve dissected the song, it’s time to piece it all together. Start slow, section by section, gradually increasing your speed until you match the song’s tempo.

Personal Touch:

  • Once you’re comfortable, experiment! Maybe add a touch of flamenco strumming, or jazz up the chords with some inversions.
  • If you’re a singer, try different vocal runs or improvise with the melody.

Video: How To Play Feeling Good

Wrapping Up

“Feeling Good” is one of those timeless classics that never loses its charm, no matter how many times you hear it (or play it). It’s a celebration of life, nature, and the beauty of a new day. As you embark on this musical journey, remember that while technique and accuracy are essential, it’s the emotion and soul you pour into the song that’ll truly make it shine. So, here’s to feeling good, every time you play!