John Lennon confronts the green-eyed monster in this song, where he sings about the fits of jealousy that controlled him. At the time, he was married to Yoko Ono, who believes the jealousy Lennon describes is not sexual, but more an unfounded feeling of inadequacy. "He was jealous about the fact that I had another language in my head, you know, Japanese, that he can't share with me," she told Uncut in 1998. "It was almost on a very conceptual, spiritual level. It wasn't on a level of physical or anything 'cause I just would never give him a reason for that."
Doing press after this song was released, John Lennon explained: "When you're in love with somebody, you tend to be jealous, and want to own them and possess them 100 percent, which I do. Intellectually, I thought owning a person is rubbish, but I love Yoko, I want to possess her completely. I don't want to stifle her. You have so little as a child, I think once you find it, you want to hang onto it. You grab it so much, you tend to kill it."
Lennon wrote this when he was in The Beatles. They recorded it as a demo called "Child of Nature," which he'd written about their trip to India to study with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It didn't make it onto any Beatles albums, so Lennon used it on his Imagine album with the lyrics changed to reflect on his relationship with Yoko, and how possessive he became of her while The Beatles were breaking up.
Paul McCartney stated in the February 1985 issue of Playgirl
: "He (John) used to say, 'Everyone is on the McCartney bandwagon.' He wrote 'I'm Just a Jealous Guy,' and he said that the song was about me. So I think it was just some kind of jealousy."
Julia - Cedar Rapids, IA
Speaking with Rolling Stone months after Lennon's death, Yoko said that he made her write out a list of all the men she slept with before they met. "He wrote a song, 'Jealous Guy,' that should have told people how jealous he was," she said. "After we started living together, it was John who wanted me there all the time. He made me go into the men's room with him. He was scared that if I stayed out in the studio with a lot of other men, I might run off with one of them."
Klaus Voormann played bass on this track. He was an old friend of the Beatles and designed the cover of Revolver
. Other musicians were Jim Keltner on drums, Alan White on vibes and John Barham on harmonium.
Keltner shared his thoughts in the 2019 Above Us Only Sky
documentary: "'Jealous Guy' was a beautiful piece of music, so typical of John Lennon: intuitive, like nothing to worry about. And Klaus, the way he hugged the beat. It was a gentle thing, but we weren't being precious with it. It just was accommodating the lyric."
Voorman added: "It was very personal. That was the moment when I got so much into what he was saying and what he was playing that I didn't know what I was playing - it was like a trance. I didn't know what key I was in - it just floated automatically."
Bertrand - Paris, France
In 1981 Roxy Music recorded this as a tribute to Lennon, who was murdered on December 8, 1980. Their version went to #1 in the UK. Many other groups have covered it as well, including The Faces and The Black Crowes.
Joey Molland and Tom Evans of the band Badfinger both played acoustic guitar on this track. Badfinger were signed to the Beatles-run Apple label and George Harrison recommended to Lennon, "if you need some guitar players on Imagine, use the Badfinger guys."
Joey Molland recalled working with Lennon in an interview with Gibson.com, "It was great! He was just a plain-talking, regular guy. No b.s. at all. Now, of course, he was John Lennon, so he had that energy about him; he kind of lit up the room, you know? But he welcomed us, said he was thrilled to have us, and then he said, 'The first song we're going to do is something called 'Jealous Guy.'' It was pretty amazing, sitting there with your headphones on, hearing John Lennon singing this fantastic song. Totally remarkable."
contributed to the track's lyrics. However, because of the public's negative attitude towards her at the time, her role was downplayed. She told NME
: "Well, if it was just John, [he] would have given me the right credit, but it was a difficult time. No famous songwriter would have thought of splitting the credit with his wife."
Yoko added regarding her influence on the track: "I think it's a good song from a women's point of view as well. John was trying to create a fun song about going on a trip to Rishikesh. That might have been great too, but it ended up not being that."