Jealous Guy

In the studio

Jealous Guy - Imagine (Remastered)


Jealous Guy was recorded on 24 May 1971 at Ascot Sound Studios, the eight-track facility John Lennon had installed at his Tittenhurst Park mansion he shared with Yoko Ono.

Among the musicians present for the recording were Joey Molland and Tom Evans from Badfinger. The band received a telephone call from Lennon’s chauffeur asking if they’d be interested in taking part.

He said, ‘John Lennon’s doing his new album and he wants to know if a couple of you guys could come down and play a little guitar?’ We said, ‘Well, you know… okay, I guess.’ I mean who wants to go to John Lennon’s house? I mean ‘Who cares?’ It was a bit of a scene because, who was it going to be? Was it Pete and Tom? Or Tommy and Joey? Well I was definitely going. That was it, I was gone. I mean this guy’s the greatest writer we’ve had. It was quite difficult even getting dressed…

We cruised down to Lennon’s place in Surrey. He had a beautiful estate there and his house was very different. Instead of paintings and things he had hammers and screwdrivers hanging on the wall in frames, black carpets everywhere. There was a stepladder where you climbed up and looked through a magnifying glass on the ceiling. It said, ‘YES’. We spent about half an hour in a daze looking at all his stuff, the jukebox, the Sgt Pepper room, his magic stuff…

Finally, in walks John Lennon and he’s really bug-eyed, really gone – ‘Hello everybody!‘ He was shouting. It was eleven o’clock at night and he’d just gotten out of bed. There was a bunch of people there: Nicky Hopkins, Klaus Voormann, Jim Keltner, Mike Pinder and he was really brusque with us, really almost rude, but not rude. I was just in awe, just ga-ga. Then he sits down on the stool and starts playing Jealous Guy and I’m so flabbergasted I can’t play. He was singing and I’m literally astounded, ‘It sounds like John Lennon.’

So we recorded acoustic guitars on that and John said, ‘You can fuck off now if you’d like.’ Of course he wasn’t being like, ‘Fuck off.’ It was like, ‘Do what you like.’ … One of the most exciting nights of me life.

Joey Molland
Without You: The Tragic Story Of Badfinger, Dan Matovina

Mike Pinder from The Moody Blues was also invited to play the Mellotron, but the instrument proved temperamental and so he played tambourine instead.

Prior to one of the takes, Lennon announced: “Here’s a message to all Northern Song shareholders. Here’s another half-million.”

The strings were overdubbed in early July 1971 at Record Plant East in New York City. They were performed by The Flux Fiddlers, members of the New York Philharmonic.

Chart success

Jealous Guy was not issued as a single in the UK or US in Lennon’s lifetime. However, as with all the Imagine songs, a video was made in 1971. It featured studio footage of Lennon singing the song, interspersed with film of Lennon and Ono travelling by hearse to a lake in the grounds of their Tittenhurst Park home. The couple were then shown boarding a rowing boat on the lake. The outdoor sequence was mostly filmed overhead from a helicopter.

In November 1985 Parlophone released it in the United Kingdom with Going Down On Love on the b-side. The single reached number 65 in the charts.

In the United States the song was released as a single in 1988, and peaked at number 80 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Jealous Guy remains one of John Lennon’s most-covered songs. Perhaps the most notable version is Roxy Music’s, which was released in February 1981 with the words “A tribute” on the sleeve. It became the band’s only UK number one hit, spending two weeks at the top of the charts in March 1981.

12 responses on “Jealous Guy

  1. Elsewhere Man

    I was never a big fan of this song until I heard the Anthology version. The Imagine version’s good, but it’s a bit over produced with the strings and whistling and the whole Wall of Sound bit. A nice George Harrison slide guitar in place of the whistling (or humming on Anthology) would have been perfect.

      1. Elsewhere Man

        True enough. “Be My Baby,” “Then He Kissed Me,” and “River Deep And Mountain High” are true examples of the WoS. I just think that even being reigned in or “not being given his head” by John, Phil’s productions of “Jealous Guy” and “Imagine” are slightly over done. The harmonium on Anthology sounds better than the strings. John’s piano playing is too perfect on the album version while the lower octave, looser sounding piano on Anthology sounds terrific. Plus, I always love John’s warts-and-all vocals on his demo’s and early takes as much and sometimes more than on the finished records. He was too critical of his own singing. He was an egotistical prat about just about every one of his other talents (“I can make a guitar speak”), but when it came to his singing he was far too modest and never satisfied.

        Same with Paul. How anyone could be dissatisfied with “Oh! Darling” is beyond me…

  2. Scottmasson

    “Overdone” in reference to any production that goes beyond guitar, bass, vocals, and drums is one of the easiest, most over-used descriptions this side of 1955. Back in your grandparents and great grandparent’s era….recorded music was usually always orchestrated. Big Band, classical, dixieland, Hollywood, Tin Pan Alley, etc. People who fear orchestration are thick. “Imagine” and “jealous guy” are flawless productions on a musical level. They’re incredibly minimal, well-placed, and balanced. Don’t confuse your opinion with the truth.

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