“The Heart of the Matter”

Released in 1989 – I was in my early 20’s when I first really heard this song in small bar in Miamisburg, Ohio.  Sitting with friends, drinking, I found myself lost in the lyrics.

What the song is about: The lyrics of Don Henley’s song reflect on a lost lover that has moved on and one man’s attempt to move past the pain caused then and now.  It’s about forgiveness and learning how to move on beyond the pain, not just from a lost love – but from pain in the world.

My favorite lines:

“There are people in your life who’ve come and gone
They let you down; you know they hurt your pride
You got to put it all behind you ’cause life goes on
You keep carryin’ that anger, it’ll eat you up inside”

What the words mean to me: The heart of the matter – the bare, base meaning of it all – is forgiveness.  Forgive to have a peaceful heart.  Forgive so that you can live.  You are more than your anger. This song just pounds forgiveness into my head and helps to remind me that I have to let go of the angst in my heart.  None of the people I thought of that night were ex-boyfriends.  My issues were much larger than that. People suck – get over it and move on. Do not give them the power to change you – Just love them more.

“What are all these voices outside love’s open door
Make us throw off our contentment and beg for something more?”

What the words mean to me: These 2 lines stand out more now that I am 46 – and not 20.  Love can make us happy and content…yet sometimes something on the other side calls to us.  Other side of what?  you may ask.  Other side of anything, really.  The other side of our contentment – just other – not this, but that.  We struggle as we age, wondering is this it?  Sometimese we have longings that we can not understand.  Some find the answers in faith, some find the answers in family or work, and some never find them.

“The more I know, the less I understand”

What the words mean to me:  These lines need no explanation beyond ignorance is bliss.

Heart of the Matter – full lyrics

By Don Henley

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

I’ve been 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 and people filled with rage
We all need a little tenderness
How can love survive in such a graceless age?
And the trust and self-assurance that lead to happiness
Are the very things we kill, I guess
Pride and competition cannot fill these empty arms
And the world they put between us – you know it doesn’t keep us warm

I’m learning to live without you now
But I miss you, baby
The more I know, the less I understand
And all the things I thought I’d figured out, I have to learn again
I been tryin’ 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

Oh, there are people in your life who’ve come and gone
They let you down; you know they 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 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 you don’t love me

Songwriters: MIKE CAMPBELL, DONALD HUGH HENLEY, JOHN SOUTHER, JOHN DAVID SOUTHER

© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

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