The Story of... 'Jealous Guy' by John Lennon
1 August 2022, 08:19
"I didn't want to hurt you, I'm just a jealous guy."
They're words that have rung true to anybody with insecurities and obsessions, likely why it's one of Lennon's most enduring tracks.
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But who wrote the song? Who was the song really about? Has anyone else covered it?
Here's all you need to know about John Lennon's 'Jealous Guy':
Who wrote 'Jealous Guy'?
John Lennon did in fact write the song himself, about his envious streak that would often result in turmoil with him and Yoko.
Lennon admitted that jealousy would regularly dictate how irrationally he'd behave either around her or without her.
He explained his inspiration whilst doing press around the song's release: "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" he confessed candidly.
When did John Lennon write 'Jealous Guy'?
John Lennon wrote 'Jealous Guy' whilst he was still with The Beatles, although it took on an entirely different form in the early days.
It was called 'Child Of Nature' as a demo, inspired by their trip to India to study with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, but never made it onto an album.
Lennon later changed the lyrics to reflect on his relationship with Yoko and how possessive he'd become whilst The Beatles were breaking up.
Yoko was also reportedly involved in the songwriting, but wasn't credited due to negative attention around Yoko being ever-present during The Beatles' acrimonious split.
What was Yoko Ono’s reaction to ‘Jealous Guy’?
Even though they were married when John released 'Jealous Guy', Yoko believed it was about his inadequacies as a lover and a husband:
"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 said 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."
After John was murdered in 1980, Yoko revealed in an interview that: "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."
She later commented on her being the song's influence, saying: "I think it's a good song from a women's point of view as well."
Did Paul McCartney think ‘Jealous Guy’ was about their rivalry?
Even though John Lennon stated the song was about his possessiveness about Yoko, he supposedly told Paul McCartney the song was about how bitter he was that Paul was idolised.
"He (John) used to say, 'Everyone is on the McCartney bandwagon' Paul told a magazine in 1985.
'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."
When was it released and how did it perform?
'Jealous Guy' was released when his lauded album Imagine came out in 1971.
It was never released as a single by John Lennon when he was alive, but was released posthumously in 1985, five years after his death and peaked at No.65 in the charts.
Has anyone else covered ‘Jealous Guy’?
'Jealous Guy' is one of the most celebrated and most covered songs in John Lennon's discography.
Released in 1981, Roxy Music took 'Jealous Guy' to the top of the charts around the world making it an international hit.
What’s the story behind Roxy Music’s cover of ‘Jealous Guy’?
Appearing on German television only hours after John Lennon's murder was announced in the media, Bryan Ferry decided that Roxy Music should cover 'Jealous Guy' in tribute.
The enormous acclaim that came from the performance prompted the band to release an official cover version, which was also a huge success.
Partly inspired by Ferry's admiration for Lennon, he was also inspired by his break-up with model Jerri Hall after she left him for Mick Jagger and feels like a lament looking back at their time together.
Replacing the guitar solo with an impressive whistling solo, it harks back to Ferry's paper round days as a young boy when he used to whistle proudly.