That young boy without a name anywhere I'd know his face.
In this city the kid's my favour
I've seen him. I've seen him, I see him every day.
Seen him run outside looking for a place to hide from his father,
the kid half naked and said to myself "Oh, what's the matter here?"
I'm tired of the excuses everbody uses, he's their kid I stay out of it,
but who gave you the right to do this?

We live on Morgan Street;
just ten feet between and his mother, I never see her,
but her screams and cussing, I hear them every day.
Threats like: "If you don't mind I will beat on your behind,"
"Slap you, slap you silly."
made me say, "Oh, what's the matter here?"

I'm tired of the excuses everybody uses, he's your kid, do as you see fit,
but get this through that I don't approve of what you did to your own flesh and blood.

I have heard the excuses everybody uses, he's your kid, do as you see fit,
but get this through that I don't approve of what you did to your own flesh and blood.

"If you don't sit in your chair straight
I'll take this belt from around my waist and don't you think that I won't use it!"

Answer me and take your time,
what could be the awful crime he could do at so
young an age?
If I'm the only witness to your madness offer me some words to balance out what I see and what I hear.
All these cold and rude things that you do I suppose you do BECAUSE he belongs to you
and instead of love, and the feel of warmth you've given him these cuts and sores that don't heal with time or with age.

...and I want to say now, I want to say "What's the Matter here?"
But I don't dare say "Whats the Matter, here?"
But I don't dare say...


Lyrics submitted by kornchick

What's The Matter Here? song meanings
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7 Comments

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  • 0
    General CommentA great melody and message about child abuse. I'd like to slap that mom silly.
    cactusdaveon July 02, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti remember the first time I heard this song, I mean really heard it. I was driving down the road and when I started listening to the lyrics I had to pull over I was crying so uncontolably. I was never abused, nor any of my friends, but it just hit me like a ton of bricks.
    megdon September 24, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAt first, knowing how liberal Natalie Merchant is, I thought this was an overblown statement of spanking and calling it child abuse...however, when you get to the line about "instead of love you've given him these cuts and sores that won't heal with time or with age"...i start to think it is about a truly abusive parent, who beats the kid so bad he gets not only cuts and bruises, but emotional scars that will last forever.
    jlbrpton June 08, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYeah jlbrpt, but I don't think Natalie Merchant can or wants to distinguish between legit spankings and severe beatings. Has nothing to do with being liberal, necessarily; I am pretty liberal and the anti-spanking garbage makes me puke.
    DJacques75on May 24, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThese are the CORRECT lyrics to a great son about whether or not to turn a blind eye to child abuse. A moving song with a great melody. Her singing in the last verse is very powerful:

    That young boy without a name anywhere I'd know his face.
    In this city the kid's my favour
    I've seen him. I've seen him, I see him every day.
    Seen him run outside looking for a place to hide from his father,
    the kid half naked and said to myself "Oh, what's the matter here?"
    I'm tired of the excuses everbody uses, he's their kid I stay out of it,
    but who gave you the right to do this?

    We live on Morgan Street;
    just ten feet between and his mother, I never see her,
    but her screams and cussing, I hear them every day.
    Threats like: "If you don't mind I will beat on your behind,"
    "Slap you, slap you silly."
    made me say, "Oh, what's the matter here?"

    I'm tired of the excuses everybody uses, he's your kid, do as you see fit,
    but get this through that I don't approve of what you did to your own flesh and blood.

    I have heard the excuses everybody uses, he's your kid, do as you see fit,
    but get this through that I don't approve of what you did to your own flesh and blood.

    "If you don't sit in your chair straight
    I'll take this belt from around my waist and don't you think that I won't use it!"

    Answer me and take your time,
    what could be the awful crime he could do at so
    young an age?
    If I'm the only witness to your madness offer me some words to balance out what I see and what I hear.
    All these cold and rude things that you do I suppose you do BECAUSE he belongs to you
    and instead of love, and the feel of warmth you've given him these cuts and sores that don't heal with time or with age.

    ...and I want to say now, I want to say "What's the Matter here?"
    But I don't dare say "Whats the Matter, here?"
    But I don't dare say...
    CharmingManon February 26, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Comment....thanks for updating the lyrics correctly!!
    CharmingManon March 10, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentDJacques75, I think that there is an implication in one of the lines that the song is discussing use of force on a child as the only form of communication. The following line seems to imply (to me) that the parent doesn't present any sort of verbal communication, just fear of beatings to keep their kid in line. I don't have a problem with spankings myself, but I've definitely seen the extremes that have made some people question them.

    "If I'm the only witness to your madness offer me some words to balance out what I see and what I hear."
    Kymlaaron November 30, 2011   Link

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