I Know There's an Answer
|"I Know There's an Answer"|
|Song by The Beach Boys from the album Pet Sounds|
|Released||May 16, 1966|
|Recorded||February 9, 1966; March 1966
|Genre||Psychedelic rock, psychedelic pop|
|Pet Sounds track listing|
"I Know There's an Answer" (additionally released with alternate vocals as "Hang On to Your Ego") is a song by the American rock band The Beach Boys, taken from their 1966 album Pet Sounds. It is the ninth track on the album. The song was composed and produced by Brian Wilson with the lyrics by Mike Love and Terry Sachen, who was the Beach Boys' road manager at the time.
The song is also known by an alternate version containing different lyrics and vocal arrangements. They were changed after concerns that it was LSD-related.
The song's early recording sessions were originally named "Let Go of Your Ego". The basic track was made on February 9, 1966 at United Western Recorders. The eclectic instrumentation includes prominent use of the bass harmonica, banjo, and Hammond organ.
When first recorded as "Hang on to Your Ego", Brian sang the sole lead.
During sessions in March 1966, Mike Love objected to the possible drug connotations of the title and certain lyrics. "I was aware that Brian was beginning to experiment with LSD and other psychedelics [...] The prevailing drug jargon at the time had it that doses of LSD would shatter your ego, as if that were a positive thing... I wasn't interested in taking acid or getting rid of my ego."
Al Jardine recalled that the decision to change the lyrics was ultimately Wilson's. "Brian was very concerned. He wanted to know what we thought about it. To be honest, I don't think we even knew what an ego was... Finally Brian decided, 'Forget it. I'm changing the lyrics. There's too much controversy."
Retitled "I Know There's An Answer" and given slight lyrical changes, the lead vocal was sung by Mike Love and Al Jardine with Brian Wilson singing lead on the choruses. In spite of the changes, the psychedelic lyrics "They trip through their day and waste all their thoughts at night" were kept in the song.
"The subject of the revised song is the self-centeredness of people and how the singer hesitates to tell them... the way that they live could be better."[according to whom?] The refrain of the song states: "I know there's an answer/I know now but I have to find it by myself."
- The Beach Boys
- Brian Wilson - lead vocal
- Carl Wilson - vocals
- Dennis Wilson - vocals
- Al Jardine - lead vocal
- Bruce Johnston - vocals
- Mike Love - lead vocal
- Additional musicians
- Hal Blaine - drums
- Glen Campbell - banjo
- Al de Lory - tack piano
- Steve Douglas - tenor saxophone
- Jim Horn - tenor saxophone
- Paul Horn - tenor saxophone
- Bobby Klein - tenor saxophone
- Barney Kessel - guitar
- Larry Knechtel - Hammond organ
- Jay Migliori - baritone saxophone
- Tommy Morgan - bass harmonica
- Ray Pohlman - bass guitar
- Lyle Ritz - upright bass
- Julius Wechter - percussion
Covers and reissue
The song, as "Hang On to Your Ego", was later covered by Frank Black on his eponymous 1993 album. The cover is a departure from the original in style as it is heavily influenced by 1980s synthesizer work while staying true to the original, with Black even singing in the style of Brian. Sonic Youth covered "I Know There's an Answer" in 1990. The song appears as a bonus track on the reissue of Goo. The original "Hang on to Your Ego" has appeared on reissues of Pet Sounds as a bonus track. The Levellers covered the song as "Hang On to Your Ego" in 1997 as a b-side for the single What a Beautiful Day.