behind the music: jealous guy


John’s handwritten lyrics to ‘Jealous Guy’
From the book Imagine John Yoko


John: ‘Jealous Guy’ was originally a song called ‘Child of Nature’. The melody had been written in India. I never did anything with it but always liked the melody. The words were silly, anyway. I sang it to Yoko, Phil Spector and a few people and they always winced. I decided to change it – and with Yoko’s help, I did.

Yoko: ‘Jealous Guy’ was a totally different song with the lyrics ‘on the road to Marrakesh’ and I said to John, ‘that’s a beautiful melody, but you have to think about something more sensitive. It’s in you.’ So whenever I hear ‘Jealous Guy’ I think ‘Oh my god!’ because he really did that.

Klaus Voormann (bass): When we were rehearsing, John would play the song on guitar or piano, and then we would start contributing what we thought was right. He was singing all the time. It was a great help and really made those songs work. If you pick the right people who can really play, they find their own way through. There’s not that much said or manipulated. It’s instinctive. Everyone is clever in his own way. You listen to everybody. You listen to the whole thing. And for me in particular, I always listened to the song and
the words.


The Raw Studio Mixes recreate the feeling of being in the centre of the recording studio, with the musicians all around you at the exact moment of the live recording. Often longer versions, all live, with no effects or overdubs, they are especially vivid and realistic in the immersive 5.1 Surround Sound versions on the Blu-Ray disc in The Ultimate Box Set.


When I think of those sessions, I always think of ‘Jealous Guy’. I’m sitting there. I don’t even know what key I’m in. I have no idea. I just play. It just goes like a dream, you know? It’s such a beautiful song and it just flows. I close my eyes and listen to John, and just play. And then those notes come where there is space for them, or when I think they should be played at that particular moment.

Nicky Hopkins (piano): John is very definite about what he wants and there is no uncertainty working with him. He doesn’t want to spend much time recording. I played electric piano on [an out-take of] the ‘Imagine’ track and the main piano track on ‘Jealous Guy’ is me too. I was on ‘Crippled Inside,’ ‘Oh Yoko!’ and ‘Soldier’ too.

Yoko: Nicky Hopkins’ playing on ‘Jealous Guy’ is so melodic and beautiful that it still makes everyone cry, even now.


The Elements Mixes use a few simple elements from the multitrack recordings, that reveal even deeper levels of detail and clarity in the sources used for the master mixes that were buried or mono-ed, now opened up and presented on a wider, clearer and brighter sound stage.


Jim Keltner (drums): Playing on ‘Jealous Guy’ was like being in a dream. Nobody in the world ever played piano like Nicky Hopkins, and Klaus has such a tremendous deep feel on the bass. Having John’s voice in your headphones, glancing up and seeing him at the microphone – 1971 – fresh from the Beatles and such a tremendous musician and songwriter – singing this beautiful, haunting little song. You only have a few of those moments in your life as a musician and that was one of them.

Alan White (good vibes): When we did ‘Jealous Guy’, Jim Keltner played the drums and I ended up playing vibraphone in the toilet in the corner of the studio. It had a little door, with a four or five inch crack, and I could see everybody through there. It was, “One, two, three, four…” and then we were playing. John gave me a great credit on the album. On the sleeve notes inside the record, he wrote, “Alan White: Good Vibes” which meant a lot to me. It was all good vibes when we were making Imagine. Everybody was really happy. And when everybody is happy in a studio, the happiness comes through the music – and there is a lot of great music on that album.

Joey Molland (acoustic guitar): John came into the studio and played us ‘Jealous Guy’. We had brought our acoustics; mine a Gibson J50 and Tommy Evans’ a Martin D41. We ran through the song once or twice, all very simple and natural. Tommy suggested a significant chord – a minor 9th or 6th. Yoko suggested it needed an intro, which Nicky played so beautifully.

Diana Robertson (secretary): While the Imagine sessions were going on, I remember everyone working very hard, staying up all up all night, making food – we were all so busy. I remember being called into the studio at about five in the morning to listen to ‘Jealous Guy’ when it had just been completed, which was quite incredible. It just sounded so amazing, you know, the first time we’d all heard it, really beautiful. Everybody suddenly stopped and they said, ‘Listen to this’ and we were all completely silent and just listened to it. People were practically in tears, it was just so lovely, so pure. I feel very privileged to have been there on that day.


The Evolution Mixes tell the story of each song on a journey from demo to master via instructions, rehearsals, recordings, multitrack exploration and studio chat. The complete set of Evolution Mixes (including the singles and extra tracks) is only available on the BluRay audio disc in the Box Set.


John: When you actually are in love with somebody you tend to be jealous and want to own them and posses them one hundred percent, which I do. But intellectually before that, when I thought, ‘Right, owning a person is rubbish!’ but I love Yoko. I want to posses her completely. I don’t want to stifle her – that’s the danger – is that you want to posses them to death – but that’s a personal problem.

It’s after the beginning, when it cools down a bit, then you can allow each other to breathe. At first you tend to strangle each other a bit, because you have so little as a child, I think. Once you find it, you want to hang on to it. You grab it so much, you tend to kill it.

Everybody’s continually searching for love and it manifests itself in many different ways, that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing. Basically because I want love from all those people, that’s just the way it goes. I think it’s a lot healthier than it was and I hope it just goes on getting more and more healthy.

I think, ‘Get away from this romantic knight on horse back galloping in.’ I think that accounts for a lot of the disillusionment of the middle-aged people or the parents. They were fed this guff about the knight in shining armour and what happened was they got Sid and a pair of braces and it wasn’t the same. He didn’t get Veronica Lake, he got Maggie and her hair curlers. That’s just as beautiful to me, that is love, too.

Yoko: And if you see Veronica Lake in the morning she probably looks like Maggie! The point is to believe in that celluloid world so much that you think that that world is real and your world is shitty. Whatever you’re doing is miserable. But you have to start thinking that actually, you’re important.

Another thing is that love is relaxation, it’s all a sort-of mixed up idea that intense love is, you know, ‘that bit’. So that the partners always try to make each other worried, always to keep them on their toes, that kind of trick. Which isn’t true because when you’re on your toes, you’re not really loving that person, you’re just grabbing them. If you can only try to relax each other, that’s where the true love comes in. You’re relaxed and you can enjoy each other, you can understand each other. So I think the understanding of love in this society is so important, the right understanding. Then things will be better.

John with his toy panda during a break in filming Imagine at Tittenhurst, 21 July 1971.
From the book Imagine John Yoko


John: I was a very jealous, possessive guy. And the lyrics explained that pretty clearly. Not just jealous towards Yoko, but towards everything male and female. Incredibly possessive. It’s partly to do with childhood. A very insecure male who wants to put his woman in a little box and lock the key and just bring her out when he feels like playing with her and put her back in. And she’s not to communicate with the world outside of me, you see? Because it makes me feel insecure. And that’s not allowed, you know? So this is facing up to it. I don’t believe these tight-skinned people who are ‘never jealous’. When you are in love with somebody, you tend to be jealous and want to own them and possess them one hundred per cent, which I do. I love Yoko. I want to possess her completely. I don’t want to stifle her – that’s the danger – that you want to possess them to death.

Yoko: I touched on the subject in my song ‘Revelations’ – ‘Bless you for your jealousy, for it is a sign of empathy. Direct not to your family, direct not to your friends. Transform the energy to admiration and what you admire will become part of your life.’

John: All that ‘I used to be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved’ was me. I used to be cruel to my woman, and physically. Any woman. I was a hitter. I couldn’t express myself and I hit. I fought men and I hit women. That is why I am always on about peace, you see. It is the most violent people who go for love and peace. Everything’s the opposite. But I sincerely believe in love and peace. I am a violent man who has learned not to be violent and regrets his violence. I will have to be a lot older before I can face in public how I treated women as a youngster.

Yoko: We would argue, of course. We were two very temperamental, very emotional, people. Friends and lovers, musicians and artists, man and woman, husband and wife. That was part of our communication. We were both shy, we didn’t go out often, certainly not to parties or anything like that. So we were literally together for fourteen years with very few breaks. John and I stood for peace and love but standing for peace doesn’t make either of us holier than thou. John and I together were human beings, and by no means were both of us totally peaceful. Anger, hurt, vulnerability, were all a part of John. When we met we were like two driven people and it was like a fantastic meeting of two crazy souls.


Faithfully remixed from the ground up using high definition 24-96 audio transfers of the original first generation multi-track recordings, The Ultimate Mixes reveal whole new levels of sonic depth, definition and clarity. On the BluRay audio disc in the Box Set, The Ultimate Mixes are available in high definition 24-96 Stereo and exclusively in stunning 5.1 Surround Sound.


They say that Venus is jealous of lovers. Forget Venus. In our case it was the whole world. But as far as we were concerned, we felt so lucky that we had found each other. Aside from the fact that we were both rebellious and emotional, we were true opposites. John was tallish. I was smallish. John made music for the people. I made music for the avant-garde, though I did not think of my music in those terms at the time (I thought I was big time). John was humble, in a way only a very successful person could be. l was proud, like most people living in an Ivory Tower, who never had to test the big water. Coming from a semiworking- class background, John was street-wise. I was totally inexperienced when it came to the games of the real world. And we felt so, so lucky that we fell in love with each other. It was a blessing neither of us expected at that time in our lives. We couldn’t take our eyes off one another. We couldn’t get enough of each other, But the outside pressure was very strong. It was so strong that sometimes we had to separate from each other in order to protect our love. We thought we were clever, that we did everything right, and nothing and nobody could tear us apart. But it happened: our separation. So sudden, too. He was taken away from me for good. Even now, I think there are people who still cannot reconcile themselves to the idea that I had been in John’s life. To those people, I’d like to say, I’m sorry that we had hurt you, But that’s what happened. That’s how it was.

John: It’s a kind of jealousy. People can’t stand people being in love. It’s your self-absorption with each other; it’s your contentment with each other that people can’t stand.

Yoko: We’re so ashamed of being jealous; so ashamed of being possessive. We’re so afraid of having hate and all that. We shouldn’t. It’s all just different forms of energy.

John: Nicky Hopkins’ piano is beautifully busked as is the bass and drums et al. Result – ‘Jealous Guy’! (Nicky’s name was somehow missed off the credits on the L.P. Sorry Mr and Mrs Nicky!)


Text and page excerpts above from the book Imagine John Yoko
Music from Imagine The Ultimate Collection
Video and video stills from Imagine/Gimme Some Truth BluRay/DVD