Attachment Mix Tape Track #2: "The Heart of the Matter" by Don Henley

October 10, 2015


One of the wonderful things about my job as a psychotherapist is that I learn from my clients all the time and they are always inspiring me and sharing great ideas for coping and resilience. This past week a client was talking about some ideas for fostering self-compassion.  She asked me, “do you know that song? It goes, Forgiveness….Forgiveness”? and she sang this little bit of the song’s chorus.

“Oh yeah! The Don Henley song!” I responded, recognizing the refrain.


She then told me she had started singing it to herself as a way to soften her inner critic, and asked me what I thought of this strategy. I told her I thought this was a great idea! Music can so powerfully provoke emotions and really prime us to feel things more deeply. After our session, I was curious about the song, so I went online to look it up. I was in highschool when it came out, and remember hearing the song on the radio and maybe seeing the video on MTV (Ha!) but hadn’t ever really considered the lyrics and their meaning. After listening to the song again, I think it’s another great candidate for the Attachment Mix Tape!


My reading of the song is that it’s about relationships on every level; the relationship with oneself, as my client smartly picked up on, relationships with friends and romantic partners both past and present, and the relationship we have to our common humanity.


Here are the lyrics:


“The Heart Of The Matter”


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 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
The trust and self-assurance that can lead to happiness
They’re the very things we kill, I guess
Pride and competition cannot fill these empty arms
And the work I put between us,
Doesn’t keep me warm

I’m learning t