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 these 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
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
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
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
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

Lyrics submitted by Demau Senae

The Heart of the Matter Lyrics as written by Don Henley Mike Campbell

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

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The Heart of the Matter song meanings
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  • +3
    Song MeaningUltimate reconciliation. We hurt each other, we love each other, life goes on. Hate dies, Loves lives forever. Please forgive me for your sake, not mine; as I have forgiven you for my sake not yours. (^_^) Even if, even if you don't love me aaannyyymmoorree.
    PhoenixSouvenir75on October 20, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThe person who said this is about divorce is right on. He's singing about life being too short to hold grudges after a messy and bitter divorce. He can't seem to pinpoint exactly what happened to where the relationship went wrong, all he knows is that it's about getting over the pain and forgiving and moving on, no matter how bad.
    Pizasteron June 16, 2009   Link
  • +2
    Song MeaningI heard this song on the radio about 23 years ago. After it finished, the radio announcer said, "That's Don Henley with a song about letting go of anger after suffering a broken heart."
    jerambamon November 21, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General Commenthas nebodi noticed that most of the songs that have comments r from the Actual Miles cd ?
    hippie-chickon July 03, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentBelieve it or not, this song actually has a happy ending. It was written by a guy named Rodney Eubanks. I may have the story a little wrong, but here's the gist of it: Rodney and his high school sweetheart went their separate ways and she married someone else. He wrote this song for her, then went on with his life. Years later, after separate divorces, they are now married to each other.
    gilby_jron April 01, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentMy interpretation of the song is that it is about divorce
    When a couple who have been married for a long time decide to break the relationship, it breaks your heart and that's what Don Henley talks about in this song.
    And then, after the split up has occured, they start to find someone else and that can either make someone feel a bit sad or make them happy for the person.
    And eventually, it's not about all of that, it's eventually down to forgiveness for all the bad times they went through and being happy that they aren't there anymore.
    Dan101on March 01, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti think this song is about a guy who has sat around waiting for his ex to get back together with him, but with little success. in the end, after an "old true friend" tells him his ex has moved on with her life and is seeing another man he realises its time he does the same.

    i do like the idea of the song representing the breakup of the eagles though, aslthough it is most probably an after thought of the dons and not the original intention.
    leedslukelad1on April 17, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentLike most art, the artist leaves it to interpretation of the listener, melding together with what they bring to it. Likewise, the artist may be inspired by more than one thing in writing it...

    I think this is a synthesis of many things in Don's life (and the co-writers as well), certainly it has part of its genesis in the breakup of the Eagles, but also more than likely personal relationships as well, which we can all relate too.

    Katherine mentioned (in the other thread) about Don's intro to this on the 'Hell Freezes Over' DVD, that this song "took 42 years to write, and about 4 minutes to sing. So..." - and he leaves it at that... but if you saw his face when he said it, you know it means so much to him that mere words cannot do it justice. You have to hear it, you have to sing it, you have to live it.

    One other thing you might consider, is that this sing is really a conversation with a friend, which is continued in 'My Thanksgiving':
    "A lot of things have happened since the last time we spoke
    Some of them are funny, some of em ain't no joke
    And I trust you will forgive me if I lay it on the line
    I always thought you were a friend of mine"

    ...and ends with:

    "For every moment of joy every hour of fear
    For every winding road that brought me here
    For every breath, for every day of living
    This is my thanksgiving

    For everyone who helped me start
    And for everything that broke my heart
    For every breath, for every day of living
    This is my thanksgiving"

    Isn't that the ultimate expression of forgiveness?

    These two songs make a beautiful pair of bookends to the same thought, about personal spiritual growth.
    RealityByteson January 04, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI have to agree after doing research I think that Justintime has a great point on the credits on Don Henley's song! Why is Eubanks not mentioned? What makes Gilby jr so right? I am curious as to what other work Eubanks has done and what other singers has he written for? Great song though, but is just a basic guy loses girl, etc. etc.
    lyricman01on January 25, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis songs is about don henley and his wife . . . on a dvd i have before he sings the song he says "this song took me 42 years to write but 4 mins to sing" 42 being the number of years that hes been with his wife .. this song is about him forgetting about his wife because he got caught up with the eagles and his career that he didnt think of her anymore and just forgot her .. . he speaks of how he wants her to forgive him even tho he knows that she doesnt love him anymore.. his wife found somebody new so she left him . . ..
    spoton February 09, 2008   Link

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