One of John Lennon’s best-known songs, ‘Jealous Guy’ had its origins in The Beatles’ 1968 trip to India, where they studied meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

The song was originally ‘Child Of Nature’, of which Lennon taped a demo at George Harrison’s Esher bungalow before the recording sessions for the White Album.

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.
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

The original lyrics were inspired by a lecture given by Maharishi about a “son of the mother nature”, which also influenced Paul McCartney’s song ‘Mother Nature’s Son’. The similarity meant ‘Child Of Nature’ was never seriously attempted by The Beatles, although it was performed during the Let It Be sessions in January 1969.

[‘Mother Nature’s Son’] was from a lecture of Maharishi where he was talking about nature, and I had a piece called ‘I’m Just A Child Of Nature’, which turned into ‘Jealous Guy’ years later. Both inspired from the same lecture of Maharishi.
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

When Lennon began work on Imagine, he cast aside the 1968 lyrics and rewrote them about Yoko Ono. However, in an interview published in the February 1985 edition of Playgirl magazine, Paul McCartney revealed that Lennon wrote it with him in mind.

He 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.
Paul McCartney
Playgirl, February 1985

Although the lyrics appear to be about a relationship, if one reads them as being about McCartney it provides a revealing insight into Lennon’s viewpoint on The Beatles’ breakup, and a counterpoint to Imagine’s ‘How Do You Sleep?’, Lennon’s vitriolic attack on his former songwriting partner.

‘Jealous Guy’ was the last song John Lennon ever performed in public. In 1977 he stayed for two months in the presidential suite of Tokyo’s Okura Hotel, while Yoko Ono was visiting relatives. One day he was playing an acoustic guitar and singing the song to himself, when a Japanese couple accidentally arrived in the suite after taking the elevator to the wrong floor.

The couple sat and listened as Lennon performed the song, after which they left and walked back to the elevator. Although nobody at the time knew it, this is believed to be the last time members of the public ever saw Lennon perform a song.

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