I Know There's an Answer

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"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
Western Studios[1]
Genre Psychedelic rock, psychedelic pop
Length 3:09
Label Capitol
Composer Wilson/Sachen/Love
Producer Brian Wilson
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 was written during Brian's second acid trip. Wilson later stated "Yeah. I had taken a few drugs, and I had gotten into that kind of thing. I guess it just came up naturally."[2]

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.


Instrumental sessions[edit]

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.[2] The eclectic instrumentation includes prominent use of the bass harmonica, banjo, and Hammond organ.

Vocal overdubs[edit]

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."[citation needed]

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."[citation needed]

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.[3]

"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."


Covers and reissue[edit]

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.


  1. ^ Elliott, Brad (August 31, 1999). "Pet Sounds Track Notes". beachboysfanclub.com. Retrieved March 3, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b "Out-Of-Sight! SMiLE Timeline". Archived from the original on 2008-03-11. Retrieved 2011-10-30. 
  3. ^ "I Know There's an Answer lyrics". 
  4. ^ "Larry Knechtel biography". Retrieved March 17, 2011. 

External links[edit]