The song was based upon aphorisms decorating a wall at his Friar Park home, added by its former owner Sir Frank Crisp. The words of the eccentric Sir Frank also inspired songs including ‘The Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)’ and ‘Ding Dong, Ding Dong’.
The stately tempo and diminished chords of ‘The Answer’s At The End’ recall ‘Isn’t It A Pity’ from Harrison’s All Things Must Pass album. He acknowledged the connection with the lines “Isn’t it a pity how we hurt/The ones that we love the most of all”, and in his 1980 autobiography.
‘The Answer’s At The End’ was once again something Sir Frankie Crisp had had painted on the walls:
Scan not a friend with a microscopic glass
You know his faults now let his foibles pass
Life is one long enigma true my friend
Read on, read on, the answer’s at the end
Seeing it for so many years and thinking it was so nice, I decided it ought to be a song. Nina Simone’s version of ‘Isn’t It A Pity’ influenced the mood of the middle part during the recording of the song.
I Me Mine
Harrison quoted the song’s lyrics – and Sir Frank’s words – during a Yahoo! web chat on 15 February 2001:
spongeweed70508 asks: Does Paul still piss you off (tell us the truth)
george_harrison_live: Scan not a friend with a microscopic glass – You know his faults – Then let his foibles pass.
george_harrison_live: Old Victorian Proverb.
george_harrison_live: I’m sure there’s enough about me that pisses him off, but I think we have now grown old enough to realize
george_harrison_live: that we’re both pretty damn cute