The Heart of the Matter (song)

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"The Heart of the Matter"
Don Henley - The Heart of the Matter.jpeg
Single by Don Henley
from the album The End of the Innocence
ReleasedJanuary 2, 1990
FormatCD single
Length5:21 (album version) - 3:53 (edited version)
Songwriter(s)Mike Campbell, Don Henley, J. D. Souther
Producer(s)Mike Campbell, Don Henley, Danny Kortchmar
Don Henley singles chronology
"The Last Worthless Evening"
"The Heart of the Matter"
"How Bad Do You Want It?"
Audio sample
"The Heart of the Matter"
The Heart Of The Matter single.jpg
Single by India.Arie
from the album Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship
ReleasedSeptember 4, 2006
(U.S. smooth jazz radio)[1]
  • Mike Campbell
  • Don Henley
  • J. D. Souther
  • India.Arie
  • Frank "Blame" Macek
India.Arie singles chronology
"There's Hope"
"The Heart of the Matter"
"Beautiful Flower"
Audio sample

"The Heart of the Matter" is a song recorded by American rock singer Don Henley from his third solo studio album, The End of the Innocence (1989). Written by Henley, Mike Campbell, and J. D. Souther and produced by Henley, Campbell, and Danny Kortchmar, the song was released as the album's third single, reaching No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 2 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks in early 1990.

The shorter radio edit version omits the "I'm learning to live without you now, but I miss you baby" lyric and skips directly to "I've been trying to get down to the heart of the matter".

In 1994 Henley, along with the Eagles, played an acoustic version of the song at their reunion concert; the performance was omitted from the Hell Freezes Over live album, but was included in the concert DVD.

The song was covered by American soul singer India.Arie in 2006 on her third studio album, Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship. Her version of the song is used in the second episode of Brothers & Sisters, entitled "An Act of Will", and in the theatrical trailer for the 2008 film adaptation of Sex and the City. It is also played briefly in a scene of the film.

The song has often been speculated to have been influenced by the 1948 Graham Greene novel of the same name. In 2010, best-selling author Emily Giffin released preview copies of her novel, also titled Heart of the Matter, which many sources believe to be loosely based on the song's core lyrics.

Stage and television actress Megan Hilty recorded a cover on her 2013 debut solo album It Happens All the Time.

Canadian singer Nikki Yanofsky recorded a live acoustic cover for her 2010 DVD Live in Montreal.


In a November 2003 interview with Songfacts, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers guitarist and primary songwriter Mike Campbell explained the song's origins:

I cut the track at home and played it for him (Don Henley). He wrote some words, I think he got some help from J.D. Souther on some of the lyrics. He changed the key to fit his voice, then we went in and basically recreated the demo. I know he was especially proud of that one. He told me that lyric was something he had been trying to write for a long time and it finally came out the way he liked it, something he really wanted to sing. A lot of people like that song. A lot of girls like it.[2]


Don Henley version[edit]

Weekly charts
Chart (1990)[3] Peak
U.S. Billboard Billboard Hot 100 21
U.S. Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 2
U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary 3
Year-end charts
Chart (1990) Position
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[4] 51

India.Arie version[edit]

Chart (2006) Peak
U.S. Billboard Smooth Jazz Songs[5] 7
Chart (2008) Peak
Canadian Hot 100[6] 33
Swedish Singles Chart[6] 46
UK Singles Chart[7] 79


  1. ^ "Smooth Jazz – Week Of: September 4, 2006". Radio & Records. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
  2. ^ "Mike Campbell". Songfacts. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  3. ^ "The End of the Innocence > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
  4. ^ "Top 100 Hit Tracks of 1990". RPM. Retrieved November 26, 2017.
  5. ^ "Smooth Jazz Songs". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 2009-01-06.[dead link]
  6. ^ a b "India.arie – The Heart Of The Matter – Music Charts". α Retrieved 2009-01-06.
  7. ^ "The Official Charts Company – India Arie – The Heart Of The Matter". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2009-01-06.

External links[edit]