John Lennon – Jealous Guy

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 his jealous nature. It was not released as a single in 1971.

The single reached #80 in the Billboard Hot 100 in1988, in conjunction with the release of the film Imagine John Lennon.

Joey Molland and Tom Evans of Badfinger both played acoustic guitar on this track. Badfinger was 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.”

John Lennon said this about the song: My song, melody written in India. The lyrics explain themselves clearly: I was a very jealous, possessive guy. Toward everything. A very insecure male. A guy who wants to put his woman in a little box, lock her up, and just bring her out when he feels like playing with her. She’s not allowed to communicate with the outside world – outside of me – because it makes me feel insecure.

From Songfacts

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.”

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.” 

Speaking with Rolling Stone months after Lennon’s death, she 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. 

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 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.”

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.”

Jealous Guy

I was dreaming of the past
And my heart was beating fast
I began to lose control
I began to lose control
I didn’t mean to hurt you
I’m sorry that I made you cry
Oh my I didn’t want to hurt you
I’m just a jealous guy

I was feeling insecure
You might not love me anymore
I was shivering inside
I was shivering inside
Oh I didn’t mean to hurt you
I’m sorry that I made you cry
Oh my I didn’t want to hurt you
I’m just a jealous guy

I didn’t mean to hurt you
I’m sorry that I made you cry
Oh my I didn’t want to hurt you
I’m just a jealous guy

I was trying to catch your eyes
Thought that you was trying to hide
I was swallowing my pain
I was swallowing my pain
I didn’t mean to hurt you
I’m sorry that I made you cry
Oh no I didn’t want to hurt you
I’m just a jealous guy
Watch out baby I’m just a jealous guy
Look out baby I’m just a jealous guy

Author: badfinger20

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

12 thoughts on “John Lennon – Jealous Guy”

    1. Jim played on everything that moved in the seventies. There is one track where he, Keith Moon and Ringo played on at the same time after having some “stimulate”…. Rock Around the Clock by Harry Nilsson. It is flying.

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  1. Very good tune. I’ll say the verboten here and admit I like Roxy Music’s version better, perhaps though because I heard it before I heard Lennon’s original. both are good versions though and a well-written song by John.

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