Paul McCartney and John Lennon did have a brief public feud after The Beatles broke up. A few of their songs, like Lennon’s “How do You Sleep?” and McCartney’s “Too Many People”, were jabs or responses from the two artists directed at the other. McCartney believed one Lennon song might have been Lennon’s way of expressing jealousy, even though he never admitted to it.
John Lennon wrote ‘Jealous Guy’ during The Beatles’ trip to India
The Beatles’ 1968 trip to India was a source of inspiration for their songwriting. Many of these songs can be heard on The White Album and Abbey Road. One song Lennon wrote was titled “Child of Nature.” In the 1980 Playboy interview, Lennon said the lyrics for this track were based on a lecture given by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The lecture also inspired McCartney to write “Mother Nature’s Son”.
“[‘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,” Lennon said. “Both inspired from the same lecture of Maharishi.”
Lennon later changed the song to “Jealous Guy” and saved it for his solo career. “Jealous Guy” debuted on his 1971 album Imagine.
Paul McCartney thought the John Lennon song was an admission of jealousy
While the lyrics appear to be about a relationship with a woman, many Paul McCartney fans interpreted John Lennon’s song to be about McCartney. Apparently, this theory made its way to McCartney, as he believed “Jealous Guy” was meant to be about him.
“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,” McCartney said in a 1985 Playgirl interview. “So I think it was just some kind of jealousy.”
However, there doesn’t appear to be any record of Lennon saying the song was about the “Blackbird” singer. In 1980, he told Playboy that the song was about his own insecurity. He was jealous about everything, and the song was about his possessive attitude toward women.
“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.”
It’s possible Lennon was jealous of McCartney’s songwriting
John Lennon did have a few No. 1 hits in his solo career, but he didn’t have the same ability Paul McCartney had to find rhythms and melodies that appealed to mass audiences. While he never admitted to it, Lennon’s former assistant, Dan Richter, claimed Lennon was envious of McCartney’s ability to write hit songs.
“John got somebody to make a list of all the Beatles’ songs, and then we had to say which were his and which were Paul’s,” Richter told The Telegraph. “It bugged him that Paul could write those sweet melodies like ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Hey Jude’. “He couldn’t do that. He was just too acerbic, or too intelligent…”
However, that doesn’t confirm “Jealous Guy” is about McCartney. So, it seems like the correct answer might come down to how one interprets it.