Don Henley – The Heart Of The Matter

This is a very well written song. Mike Campbell wrote the music and produced this track. As a member of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Mike writes tracks for many of Petty’s songs. He first collaborated with Henley in 1984 when he wrote and produced “The Boys of Summer,” which he came up with on a 4-track tape recorder in his house.

The song peaked at #21 in the Billboard 100 in 1990. Don Henley wrote the lyrics with J.D. Souther, who frequently collaborated with the Eagles. The song was included on the album The End of the Innocence which was a very good album. I was going through a breakup at the time and of course, this song I could relate to…this and about every Temptations song ever made.

Building The Perfect Beast and The End of the Innocence are two great solo albums by Henley…

From Songfacts

Campbell told us how this came together: “That was a couple of years later, by then I had upscaled my home studio to a 24-track. I cut the track at home and played it for him (Henley). He wrote some words, I think he got some help from J.D. Souther on some of the lyrics. He changed the key to fit his voice, then we went in and basically recreated the demo. I know he was especially proud of that one. He told me that lyric was something he had been trying to write for a long time and it finally came out the way he liked it, something he really wanted to sing. A lot of people like that song.”

Campbell played guitar on this and another track on the album, “The Last Worthless Evening.” Here’s our full Mike Campbell interview.

The song is about a man who finds out his former lover has found someone else, which is exactly what they were both going through at the time. In our interview with J.D. Souther, he explained: “At that particular moment it was an easy song for both of us to work on, because we had both, within the last year or so, broken up with our fiancées. We’d both been in love and engaged at the same time and both his relationship with his girl and me with mine ended in the same few months. And it’s pretty much what the song says, they had both taken up with somebody else. And that’s not easy to hear, but at the time it made a good source material for that song, because it seemed to be really universal and it seemed the only way to really survive your first reaction to hearing news like that or having those kind of feelings is to remember that the first person to benefit from forgiveness is the one who does the forgiving. And, actually, that was Don’s idea. I have to give him full credit for that forgiveness theme. The first time he sang that forgiveness chorus over and over to me, I didn’t get it. Kind of went, ‘Yeah, I guess.’ And then it sort of sunk it that it was exactly the point of the song.”

The line “The flesh will get weak and the ashes will scatter” is a biblical reference, coming from Matthew 26:41: “The spirit is willing enough, but the flesh is weak.”

India.Arie recorded this in 2006 on her album Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship; her version hit #79 in the UK and #33 in Canada.

What are those voices outside love’s open door
Make us throw off our contentment
And beg for something more?

Lorde, who went through a big Don Henley phase before recording her second album, called this, “the most incredible f–king question of the universe.”

I could not find a studio version of this song on youtube or vimeo…

 

The Heart Of The Matter

I got the call today, I didn’t want to hear
But I knew that it would come
An old, true friend of ours was talkin’ on the phone
She said you found someone
And I thought of all the bad luck
And the struggles we went through
And how I lost me and you lost you
What are those voices outside love’s open door
Make us throw off our contentment
And beg for something more?

I’m learning to live without you now
But I miss you sometimes
The more I know, the less I understand,
All the things I thought I knew, I’m learning again
I’ve been tryin’ to get down
To the heart of the matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

These times are so uncertain
There’s a yearning undefined
People filled with rage
We all need a little tenderness
How can love survive in such a graceless age?
Ah, the trust and self-assurance that lead to happiness
They’re the very things we kill, I guess
Oh, pride and competition
Cannot fill these empty arms
And the work I put between us, you know it doesn’t keep me warm

I’m learning to live with out you now
But I miss you, baby
And the more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I’d figured out
I have to learn again
I’ve been trying to get down
To the heart of the matter
But everything changes
And my friends seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

There are people in your life
Who’ve come and gone
They let you down
You know they’ve hurt your pride
You better put it all behind you baby
‘Cause life goes on
You keep carryin’ that anger
It’ll eat you up inside baby

I’ve been trying to get down
To the heart of the matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me

I’ve been tryin’ to get down
To the heart of the matter
Because the flesh will get weak
And the ashes will scatter
So, I’m thinkin’ about forgiveness
Forgiveness
Even if , even if you don’t love me

Forgiveness, forgiveness, baby
Forgiveness, forgiveness
Forgiveness, forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me
Forgiveness, forgiveness
Forgiveness, forgiveness
Forgiveness, forgiveness

Author: badfinger20

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

25 thoughts on “Don Henley – The Heart Of The Matter”

    1. Yes and the studio version is so much better…Don must have banned all studio versions of his songs on youtube.
      Yep if you breakup this is a good one and the Temptations.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I love Don Henley. I have always been a big fan, of both his solo work and the Eagles. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Henley at a book signing many years ago. It was one of those rare days in Southern California when it was pouring down rain and I had been waiting outside in the rain for a couple of hours to meet him. He took pity on me for I must have looked like a drowned rat and we had a good conversation about me waiting in the rain for hours just to meet him. But it will always be a good memory of the legend and the one and only Don Henley.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is a great story. I’m glad to hear he was that nice to you. Thank you for sharing it. He has an excellent voice…for some reason I always related more to his solo work…this song, in particular, is a great song.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That is cool. It’s good to hear nice stories about musicians and artists…instead of the bad we mostly hear about people.

        The only famous musicians I’ve actually had a conversations with were…Pete Best…the man the Beatles kicked out of the Beatles for Ringo to join….Also Don Williams and Loretta Lynn who were both very nice.

        Living in Nashville I’ve seen quite a few rock and country artists but really never got to talk to them much.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Great song from a great album, as were his other 2 solo works in the 80s. by far my favorite Eagle when it comes to solo material. Great voice, great lyrics and a great knack of finding great collaborators.

    Like

  3. Max i had the same experience as you-when that song was going out- going through a break- up – a perfect break up song. i really liked Henley’s three solo albums in the 80’s i don’t know why he had such a long gap until his next one- I think he’s only had 2 solo albums in the past 30 years. The Eagles-I am with The Dude- I hate the F-‘in Eagles’ ..but do like Henley’s solo stuff and of course Ringo’s brother-in-law.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m by no means an Eagles fanatic but come on! You don’t like One of These Nights? In the City? Those Shoes? Outrage! (Just kidding.)
      For years I was ‘so over’ The Eagles, just like I was ‘so over’ Led Zeppelin. Now I’m over being over them. Both bands were over-hyped in my opinion, but they both had some good songs.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Pam I think you would agree to this…where we live…they are looked at as a southern band…played along side Lynyrd Skynyrd…and I don’t mean southern California either.

        Like you said…over hyped and played to a point of craziness. A song like Desperado…it’s a timeless song and a few others I can listen to. Take it to the Limit for some reason is the one song (reminds me of my dad) I can still enjoy.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Take it to the Limit is a wonderful song. Desperado is great too. Funny, it reminds me of my dad.

        Lynyrd Skynyrd…Never was in my top favorite bands…But I liked them. That is, when I lived in Texas, but when I moved to Nashville I grew to hate them because, yes, like The Eagles, they were over played ad nauseam. But, my gosh, I have a live DVD of them and it’s bad @$$ with a capital @. The live rendition of Freebird –they’re some place in California–gives me chills. So its come full circle with me, only I like them more now than I did back in the day. But that’s just me. I definitely get those people that do not like them.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. The orginal band was a great live band. Ronnie Van Zant was a very good songwriter. I do like seeing film clips of the original band. I always thought Steve Gaines would have been a star on his own if not for the plane crash.
        The best performance of Free Bird I ever saw was when they opened up for the Stones in Knebworth in 76…

        The album I still listen to is Street Survivors….I Never Dreamed being my favorite song.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Lovely song. Fascinating–to me, anyway–that Mike Campbell wrote the music. Fascinating, but I’m not surprised: Campbell is one of my favorite guitarists. But he’s more than that, he’s a musician. I make that distinction because I come the era of the guitar gods and, unfortunately, I was influenced by that. I can’t imagine Michael Schenker or Steve Vai writing music for The Heart of the Matter.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Agreed. Petty and Campbell were partners. A lot like Ozzy Osbourne and Randy Rhodes were partners, speaking of shredder’s. Ha! But Rhodes was very good. He was a musician and a shredder! Amazing.

        Like

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