Jealous Guy

Album: Imagine (1971)
Charted: 65 80


  • 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." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    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." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    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, "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."
  • Yoko Ono 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."

Comments: 48

  • Scott Murray from Williamsburg, VaI agree with (G from Pittsburgh) and (Ruth from Indianapolis). Unfortunately, we will never know what was going on inside John's head when he wrote "Jealous Guy." For the people that say it couldn't have been written for Paul because it dates back to 1968 are not familiar with the history of the song. The demo from 68 was called "Child of Nature" and the lyrics had nothing to do with the song John would later release called "Jealous Guy". I intend to perform this at a musical event in honor of what would have been John's 80th birthday this coming week. So, I got on this board to get some insight. Personally, I always felt this song "Jealous Guy" recorded in May of 1971 was possibly written for Paul, but not for the reasons cited in this blog. Paul's solo success really doesn't flourish until 1973, i.e., "My Love", "Band On The Run", Live & Let Die, etc... and Paul doesn't hit major arenas until 1975-1976, so I do not believe John was jealous of the Paul's solo success when JG was written. However, it may have been pointed to the break-up, the myriad of hit songs Paul was writing and releasing through the Beatles near the end. Paul had really started to deliver the goods and John was pale in comparison... Paul really didn't start aiming a few songs at John until "Ram" also released in May of 1971. I discount that JG had anything to do with post Beatle events. I find the the Paul, Brian and Stu (Perhaps it was about all of them?) far more credible than a song written for Yoko at this time in his career. To Billy, the person who said: "Ringo had more success then Paul did after the break up." I respectively disagree with you. Check the charts and the tours. John once sheepishly stated on the Tom Snyder Show that he felt Ringo's solo career was better than his own. That would be somewhat accurate because Ringo had a run of chart topping singles and a few top 10 albums. Peace & Love...
  • G from Pittsburgh PaI see this as a song for Paul, most definitely. Even though he started it before the break-up of the Beatles, I believe the lyrics evolved into an apology. When he worked on it, during the White Album, the lyrics were weak, not Beatle album worthy. When he chose to work on it after the break-up, it is definitely evocative of a true and deep apology to someone he loved like no other. It's heartbreaking. I always tear up, when I hear it, much like Here Today. At least Paul got to hear John's love song to him. I'd like to think he was moved.
  • Jim Carson from Belfast, Northern IrelandI believe John wrote Jealous Guy mainly as a heartfelt apology to Stuart Sutcliffe. John and Stuart were close beyond words and Stuart's desire to leave the group to be with his newfound love, Astrid, tore John apart. It's been alleged that John's immense jealousy turned to rage and culminated in a vicious attack on Stu, who received a kick to the head from John who was wearing the pointed, sliver tipped cowboy boots all the Beatles wore at that time. Stuart's autopsy concluded that his brain haemorrhage was a result of a sharp blow to the head. Astrid confirmed that John totally freaked out at the news and it's believed he confided to Yoko that he held himself directly responsible for Stu's death, for the remainder of his life. He never publicly spoke of his best friend and soul mate ever again. "I was dreaming of the past, and my heart was beating fast. I began to lose control....I didn't mean to hurt you" - Just my opinion.....
  • Michele from Brewster, NyThe great rock pianist Nicky Hopkins played piano on this song. Probably the most underrated artist in rock history.
  • Domenic from BostonJohn Lennon recorded perhaps his most beautiful piano work on "Jealous Guy"
  • Billy from Foley, AlThere was a demo of this song before the break up of the Beatles. So, I don't see how it could've possibly been written as an apology to Paul.I believe it's just a reflection to how he really is. As for it possibly being tributed to Paul's sucess after the Beatles, one was take into consideration that in fact Ringo had more success then Paul did after the break up.
  • Holly from New York, NyThis is my favorite song. It really sums up what he's been feeling. So beautiful.
  • Prashant from Kathmandu, NepalYou dont have to condone his "drug abuse" if that's what u call it, look past that and look at the man who changed the world and is inspiring millions
  • Laurent from Manama, BahrainI am not a fan of The Beatles at all. I actually only enjoy their songs when played by other artists... A lot of my friends think I am nuts :-)

    This song was covered by Peter Criss on his second solo album "Let Me Rock You" (1982), after he had left KISS in 1980. Not a very good version in my opinion.
  • Wayne from New Haven, CtI remember listening to this album when it first came out.Upon hearing it (Jeaslous Guy) the first time, It blew me away! Man I wish I could go back in time when The Beatles ruled the airways!
    A once in a lifetime Group they were...
  • Tobias from Santo Domingo, Dominican RepublicI've heard this song 100 times, but today I had to pause. I could very possibly be about Paul, as he was getting all the hits and attention. It makes no sense it being about Yoko, to whom he was unconditionally devoted to. His "jealousy" of Paul's success was the real reason for him breaking up The Beatles.
  • Imagine from Moscow, Russia FederationIt was written for Macca.
    Why dont u believe him?
    There arent any reason for him to lie.
    Unfortunately, John never admitted it openly, only in private. I cant get it.
  • Ruth from Indianapolis, InSorry, Joanne, but you can't believe John's stories. Seriously. The guy changed his stories about his songs time and time again. At one point, he said this was for Yoko, then another time it was to all the people he'd ever hurt (Cyn, Paul, Yoko, etc.). How he answered a question depended on how he was feeling that moment. You don't know that it was definitely a song for JUST YOKO.
  • Joannerose from Brampton, OnThis song is written for ONLY Yoko Ono, John Lennon was being possessive over her during his Beatle days. He force Yoko to write every guy she was involved with in the past. He even said that this song is for Yoko and no one else, he want to apologize to her for his action.
  • Amanda from Gretna, Vtsome people say this is about Yoko, others say it was about Paul, and others say it was about Cynthia. To me (and im probably wrong) i think it's about everyone he had hurt in his life, like emotionally. Cynthia, Yoko, Paul, Stu, Brian Epstein, the list may go on but those are the people I thought of. I remember the first time i heard this i thought it was about cynthia and the bad break up between them because he had been very possesive of her and didn't like many guys being with her whe they were dating. and i thought in the song he was just saying sorry.
  • Owen from Cromwell, CtI read somewhere when I was in college that Lennon wrote this song shortly after Brian Epstein's death. He was feeling guilty about constantly rebuffing Brian's advances, and felt that their soured relationship might have caused Epstein's death. This is sort of a tribute, in a sense.
  • Ruth from Indianapolis, InIt is documented that Paul has said this song was intended for him (and he's most likely correct), but without John here to tell us for whom it was really meant (and he tends to change his stories all of the time), we'll never know.
  • Lyubomyr from Ternopil', Ukraine"With John Lennon, he recorded perhaps his most beautiful piano work on songs like "Jealous Guy" and "Scared." He accompanies Lennon on the classic "Imagine" to give the song its full sound."
    Biography Credit:
  • Ja'mie from Chicago, IlI heard it was about Cynthia Lennon :p
  • Julia from Cedar Rapids, Ia"He wrote 'I'm Just a Jealous Guy,' and he said that the song was about me." - Paul McCartney
  • Bruce from Palm Beach Gardens, FlThere is a more rocking guitar version of this song in Lennon's box set. I believe Phil Spector played piano and added all the orchestrations to the final cut.
  • Don from Dc, DcI heard it was about Stuart Sutcliffe...
  • Craig from New Braunfels, TxThis song was not for Paul. The song "How Do Sleep At Night" was a blistering attack on Paul. "Jealous Guy" was for Yoko.
  • Rasa Bihari Das from Tamworth, Uk, EnglandI love the whistling too like in Don't Worry Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin but I don't whistle anymore as it is stated in scriptures and by science whislting breaks through the ether level and attracts Ghosts to you instantaneously =/
  • Brian from Phoenix, AzListening to the song right now, very moving both lyrically and musically, however I must refer to the question John from Shelby proposed, because I have been wondering the very same thing, and can't find any details.

    Who is playing that piano part? Boy, it sure is simply amazing, very haunting and beautiful sounding. I'd love to know, if anyone out there has the info, thx.
  • Mauricio from Monterrey, Mexicoi think this song was also made for Paul McCartney, asking him forgivnes
  • Alexander Yerks from Wingdale, NyDoes it matter when he died? People should remember him for his beautful words, because those will last everyday and his death was only one.
  • Ashlee from Hobartum.. i dont wanna really start this whole debate about the time thing again, but it would be december 8, you count it as where it happened. with the september 11 attacks in america it was already september 12 here in australia but we still call it september 11.
    i really like this song, its one of the songs that really introduced me to his music (im
  • Steven from West Chester, PaIf you live in the US, for you John Lennon was murdured on the 8th. If you live in the UK, for you John Lennon was murdured on the 9th. Just think about it in terms of timezones and what your location is when he died. This rule can be applied to any timezone. You can even calculate exact time if you want, just think of it in terms of the exact moment he died and what your location is. End of discussion. I love this song by the way...
  • Markus from Stockholm, SwedenAND... yeah... It surprises me how Jealous Guy didn't reach further on the charts... It is D-E-efinitely in the same class as Imagine...
  • Markus from Stockholm, SwedenJosh: - "I love the whistling in this song. It amazes me how whistling could get to you like this. When i hear the whistling I just stop and am in another world for the 20 seconds."
    That's what I feel 2 times 5 seconds when the harmonica is played in Sting's "Fields Of Gold"... It's just so passionate... BTW, has anyone of you heard Lennon's "Love"? Now that's a beautiful melody...
  • Teresa from Mechelen, Belgium"Jealous Guy" much better than "Imagine", you're right John.
  • John from Woburn, MaThis is by far Lennon's best solo song and quite possibly better than his Beatle work too. Its hard to understand why a song like Imagine, with its simplistic rythme and lazy philosophical thoughts has become the Lennon anthem instaed of this one
  • Emily from Kenova, WvWell, if he died in the United States, he died in the United States. John Lennon chose the US as his home, and he died here at his home. THEREFORE, technically, his death will always rest upon December 8, 1980 around the world. Just because in the UK it was December 9, 1980 doesn't mean it was on the 9th. He was back in time that day; he was on the 8th. Maybe if he were on the 9th he would be here. But, yet he died on the 8th since he was in the US. That would be like saying he died the day after he died. He and Yoko knew the day as the 8th, so let his day rest in peace and John's music live on.

    An appreciated fan of the most amazing influence to life and peace.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScHe was killed on December 8th not December 9th 1980. He meaning John Lennon.
  • Fyodor from Denver, CoHey ben, it's my birthday, too! And Jim Morrison's and Sammy Davis Jr.'s, whoo-hoo!
  • Ricardo from Mexico, MexicoBryan Ferry covered it also
  • Suzi from Charleston , Scthis song sends shivers up and down my spine. the chords are absolutley amazing...i can't describe the feeling i get.
  • Mary from Virginia Beach, VaI absolutely adore this song. It is my favorite of John Lennon's.
  • Josh from Toronto, OhI love the whistling in this song. It amazes me how whistling could get to you like this. When i hear the whistling I just stop and am in another world for the 20 seconds.
  • Laura from Eatontown, NjI would think the date of a murder, or any other significant event, would be tied to its geographic location. For example, I think we all agree, around the globe, that the date that lives in infamy was December 7, 1941. Just because it was December 8 someplace else doesn't change the fact that it was December 7 in Hawaii. The same holds true for the day OUR music died, 12/8/80.
  • Matt from Altoona, PaPeter Criss of Kiss covered it on his 1982 solo album "Let Me Rock You".
  • Tom from Coolage, AlHe was murdered on December 8th in the UNITED STATES, but it was already December 9th in the UNITED KINGDOM since they are a few hours ahead of us... think before you speak :-p
  • Liliana from Huntley, Ili love the melody of this song. proves that the tough looking john was really beautifully soft on the inside.
  • Jude from Thomasville, GaThis is one of my favorite songs on "Imagine". I love it when John whistles a verse. And Ben is right -- John was assassinated on December 8, 1980. I still have the newspaper clippings.
  • Teresa from Mechelen, BelgiumMy favorite song of John Lennon, with a perfect
    "Wall of Sound", I close my eyes and I hear Phil Spector, he's just great!!!
  • John from Shelby, NvWas it John Lennon or Nicky Hopkins playing piano on this?
  • Ben from Chicago, IlJohn Lennon was actually murdered on December 8th, 1980 by crazed fan Mark Chapman. I would know since its my birthday.
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