The release date of 7 September was revealed by frontman Brian Molko in an interview on XFM. Molko has stated that "It's a very spiritual song. It's kind of Eastern in its philosophy. It's about the questions that will never be answered. Anyone who has an interest in the meaning of life will come up against a brick wall, but you must accept the fact that there will be no answers and try and get the best out of now."
The single was later confirmed on the band's official site. The release date was changed to 14 September 2009. While "The Never-Ending Why" was released on the United Kingdom and Norway, "Ashtray Heart" were also released as a single on the remaining countries of Europe.