Song Spotlight: “Feeling Good” by Nina Simone

A flock of black birds rising up, with a sunset over the sea in the background. Label reads "show tune/jazz"
  • Mood: Slow, Positive
  • Themes: 60s songs, Feeling good
  • Tempo: Slow
  • Genre/Style: Showtune, Jazz

In life, we can easily identify when things are going wrong and are challenging for us and others. Those prolonged periods of turmoil can leave us feeling drained and down. When going through those tough times, it can be hard to take note of the things that bring us joy. We must find ways to engage in activities that help refill our cups so that we can continue on our journeys.

For our overall well-being, we might have to give ourselves permission to engage in activities that make us feel good. Fortunately, simply paying attention to the things that bring us joy can be a form of self-care. By looking for things that make us feel good, we can refuel ourselves and look at the day in a new light. This can help us form resilience to help get us through the hard times.  

Nina Simone’s song “Feeling Good” shows us how to look for those sources of joy. The song was written in 1964 by English composers Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse for the musical The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd. The tune was recorded by Nina Simone on her 1965 album I Put a Spell on You. This song became a signature song for Nina Simone and has been covered by many individuals, from John Coltrane, to The Pussycat Dolls, to John Legend, who performed the song during the Celebrating America performance for the 2021 presidential inauguration. 

Here are some of the lyrics:

Birds flying high, you know how I feel

Sun in the sky, you know how I feel

Breeze driftin’ on by, you know how I feel

It’s a new dawn

It’s a new day

It’s a new life for me, yeah

It’s a new dawn

It’s a new day

It’s a new life for me, ooh

And I’m feeling good

This is a great song to use in a 1:1 setting or group and would go well with a collection of show tunes or other songs from the 60s. It can be used as a transition into group discussion, an opportunity for musical engagement, movement and more. 

Try This:

Theme: This song would fit well into a collection of Show Tunes, or songs from the 60s. Other complementary songs may include “My Favorite Things”, “Hammer Song”, and “Put on a Happy Face.”

Encourage the group to try to identify things that bring them joy, big or small. It can be seeing people they love, to a nice warm cup of tea or coffee. Discuss the lyrics of the song, what do they feel the singer is expressing. 

Share ways to find new activities that bring them joy, or share with the group ways to note the small joys in life. 

Make a Joy Chart and write down the small joys that happen throughout the day with help of your group members or start a gratitude journal.

Movement: Do gentle expressive movement with the introduction of the song, sway from side to side, or add scarves to add visual interest to the movements along with the song. 

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