George Harrison loved Friar Park, the mansion that served as his home, his family abode, and his place of work. It was where he committed many of his ideas to tape, and it was where he wrote many of his strongest tunes. Notably, he wrote ‘Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)’ at this location, which now served as a welcome return to the man who had once owned this particular mansion.
That mantra cements ‘Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)’ – an enjoyable if lightweight tune that would’ve serviced an everyday pop artist looking for a hit (It revels in whimsy, which might explain why it fit so well onto the soundtrack of How I Met Your Mother: a mainstream 2000s sitcom that holds a surprisingly diverse soundtrack). True, it was flimsy, but it was a step in the right direction.
More substantial was his rendition of ‘If Not For You’, which marked a tradition of covers Harrison would put on his albums. More often than not, they were among the most accomplished, but that simply showed how much faith Harrison had in the songs others had written for
him. And with words of Bob Dylan’s calibre, Harrison could relax and sing to his heart’s content.
It wasn’t a brilliant song, but he would record tunes of a more distinguished nature down the line. Throughout the All Things Must Pass album, there is delirium, devastation and disgust: much of it aimed at himself as much as at other people. ‘Isn’t It A Pity’ carried the most damning verdict, and the track – sprawling, sincere and singular – foreshadows a world where the impossibility of peace is lessened by the lenience of man’s more-altruistic tendencies.
Cheeky as ever, Harrison’s ballad ends with a soaring chorus of gospel singers, each of them chewing their ‘nah nah nah’ with spirited relish. Some commentators later felt that it resembled the closing coda of McCartney’s ‘Hey Jude’, but if there was some ribbing on Harrison’s part, at least
it was done with a sense of good fun, and good British spirit.
1970 was a brilliant year for Harrison, but 1974 was anything but. Lost in a sea of drugs, drink and divorce, he was beginning to lose himself from the world. For the first time in his solo career, he found himself at an impasse,
so began sheltering himself in the comfort of his garden and home.
Fortunately, his financial credit was healthy, and he was now free to enjoy the earnings stockpiled from The Beatles trusts. And in Olivia Arias, he had found friendship, dependability, and most importantly, love. And there he found another message in Friars Park, this time one that inspired him to write one of the most impressive songs of his career:
“Scan not a friend with a microscopic glass
You know his faults, now let his foibles pass
Life is one long enigma, my friend
So read on, read on, the answer’s at the end.”
It led to one of the most expressive and impressive vocal performances, and ‘The Answer’s At The End’ makes up for the failings on ‘Frankie Crisp’s side.
The two songs George Harrison wrote about Friar’s Park:
- ‘Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)’
- ‘The Answer’s At The End’