Although in his extensive 1980 interview for Playboy he dismissed the song as “just a piece of nothing”, the lyrics of ‘I Know (I Know)’ are open to interpretation as a commentary on Lennon’s relationship with Yoko Ono, which by 1973 was faltering. Lennon realised matters had turned sour, and the song can be seen as a confessional in which he claimed to finally be able to see clearly, just as he had before on the Imagine songs ‘How?’ and ‘Jealous Guy’.
The curious repetition of the title in parentheses could have been simply one of Lennon’s whims, but it is possible that he was presenting a coded message – not for the first time – to his former bandmate Paul McCartney. Wings’ 1971 album Wild Life had featured the song ‘Some People Never Know’, in which McCartney lamented that some people fail to understand what it means to love. In this light, Lennon’s response saw the pair in agreement, in a marked contrast to their earlier song-based conflicts.
Lennon recorded a home demo of ‘I Know (I Know)’ in the early summer of 1973, prior to entering the studio. During this time he worked on a number of songs destined for Mind Games.
The demo was recorded on a steel string acoustic guitar. Lennon performed ‘I Know (I Know)’ twice, preceded by two false starts; the final full run-through was released on the 1998 box set John Lennon Anthology.