“The Answer’s at the End” is a song by English rock musician George Harrison, released in 1975 on his final album for Apple Records, Extra Texture (Read All About It). Part of the song lyrics came from a wall inscription at Harrison’s nineteenth-century home, Friar Park, a legacy of the property’s original owner, Sir Frank Crisp. This aphorism, beginning “Scan not a friend with a microscopic glass”, had resonated with Harrison since he bought Friar Park in 1970, and it was a quote he often used when discussing his difficult relationship with his former Beatles bandmate Paul McCartney.
Harrison’s adaptation of the verse for “The Answer’s at the End” coincided with a period of personal upheaval, following the severe criticism afforded his 1974 North American tour by several influential reviewers. In its plea for tolerance and a musical arrangement that includes orchestral strings, the song recalls Harrison’s 1970 hit ballad “Isn’t It a Pity”. The arrangement also bears the influence of Nina Simone’s 1972 cover version of “Isn’t It a Pity”, specifically in a pair of codas performed by Harrison in the soul style.
Harrison recorded “The Answer’s at the End” in Los Angeles, where he was overseeing projects relating to his Dark Horse record label during much of 1975. The backing musicians on the recording include members of the Dark Horse Records band Attitudes, among them David Foster and Jim Keltner. As with much of Extra Texture, the song has received a varied response from music critics and Harrison’s biographers. On release, Rolling Stone dismissed the track as “padded subterfuge” and overlong, while Melody Maker described it as “majestic” and one of Harrison’s “most potent tracks ever, highly emotional and introspective”.
Don’t be so hard on the ones that you love
It’s the ones that you love we think so little of
Don’t be so hard on the ones that you need
It’s the ones that you need we think so little of
The speech of flowers excels the flowers of speech
But what’s often in your heart, is the hardest thing to reach
And life is one long mystery, my friend
So live on, live on, the answer’s at the end