DREAM­ING OF THE PAST

Oc­to­ber 9 would have been John Lennon’s 78th birth­day. In an ex­clu­sive ex­tract from a new book, he and Yoko Ono re­veal the true story be­hind the song Jeal­ous Guy, told in in­ter­views com­piled from 1971.

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Oc­to­ber 9 would have been John Lennon’s 78th birth­day. In an ex­clu­sive ex­tract from a new book, he and Yoko Ono re­veal the true story be­hind the song Jeal­ous Guy, told in in­ter­views com­piled from 1971.

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”. 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.

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 100 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.

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 14 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.

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 semi-work­ing-class back­ground, John was street­wise. 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.

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. John Lennon

PHO­TOS / THE 1971 FILM IMAG­INE, DI­RECTED BY JOHN & YOKO.CAMERAMEN: NIC KNOWLAND, JOHN METCALFE AND RICHARD STAN­LEY (UK), BOB FRIES (USA); PETER FORDHAM; LENONO. ALL IMAGES © YOKO ONO

From far left: John and Yoko with Ju­lian Lennon (then 8), row­ing on the lake at Tit­ten­hurst, 1971; Lennon with a toy panda, tak­ing a break from film­ingImag­ine at Tit­ten­hurst, July 21, 1971; Record­ing Imag­ine in the White Room, Tit­ten­hurst, May 27, 1971.Be­low, lyrics ofJeal­ous Guy, hand­writ­ten by John Lennon.

Imag­ine John Yoko, by John Lennon and Yoko Ono (Thames & Hud­son, $70)Jeal­ous Guy: Au­dio in­ter­views: Hi­lary Hen­son, Wo­man’sHour, BBC Ra­dio, May 28, 1971; David Sch­eff, Septem­ber 10-28,1980; Yoko Ono, Si­mon Hil­ton, 2017 Es­says: Yoko Ono — John Lennon An­thol­ogy, 1998; John Lennon — Lennon on Imag­ine, Craw­daddy, De­cem­ber 5, 1971.

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