Attachment Mix Tape Track #2: "The Heart of the Matter" by Don Henley
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 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 to live without you now But I miss you, Baby The more I know, the less I understand All the things I thought I figured out, I have to learn again I’ve 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
There are people in your life who’ve come and gone They let you down and hurt your pride Better put it all behind you; life goes on You keep carrin’ that anger, it’ll eat you inside
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
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 anymore
So, what is the heart of the matter? I’m sure there are a million ways to interpret this song! The way this song currently hits me is that the heart of the matter is that we are all in this life together trying to find as he says “the trust and self-assurance” we need to be happy and to have healthy relationships. Forgiveness is one way to start to find that trust and self-assurance. Forgiveness is a difficult thing, especially when we’ve been hurt deeply by someone we love. The message of the song seems to be that forgiveness is possible when we understand that people can hurt us, but we hurt them too and a way to soothe this hurt is to offer ourselves and others a deeper understanding of human vulnerability and fallibility.
And I think my client is right! Listening to this song is a great coping strategy! Just listening to the song brings up feelings of compassion and love.
Here’s a link to the song if you don’t know it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xezg3z5IE8I
What do you think about using music to help generate self-compassion?
Are there songs that you would recommend to promote acceptance and forgiveness?
Thanks for reading!