How Mike Campbell Wrote a Don Henley Hit on the Toilet
Mike Campbell came up with the music to Don Henley's 1991 hit "The Heart of the Matter" during a bowel movement.
The Heartbreakers guitarist — who'd previously collaboration with the ex-Eagles drummer on "The Boys of Summer" — told the story on an episode of Brian Koppelman's podcast The Moment, demonstrating how inspiration could strike at any moment. "There's a guitar everywhere," he said. "Everywhere I sit, I can reach over and pick up a guitar. And even — you may want to cut this out; I'm gonna be really honest with you — 'Heart of the Matter' ... I got up. I sat on the toilet first thing in the morning. I had a guitar on the wall. And I was half-asleep, and I just went [strums opening chords]."
"There's no way I'm taking that out of the podcast," Koppleman protested. "That's incredible!"
"The songs, the body stuff all comes out together at the same time," the guitarist laughed. "You have to have the instrument nearby, or even driving in the car sometimes you have to pull the car over. 'Cause, you know, these things come and it's a gift. It's magic, and it's mysterious, and I, for one, can't just turn the switch on. It turns itself on. And you just have to obey it."
He thinks that the chords were inspired by Jeff Lynne entering his orbit through their collaborations with Tom Petty on Full Moon Fever. "I'd actually been working with Jeff at that time, so I had a lot of Jeff Lynne mannerisms in my writing," Campbell added. "I wasn't even awake yet. But I remembered it, and so I put a track together with those chords in kind of a Jeff Lynne production approach. I don't think I ever even showed that one to Tom ... 'cause there were so many other songs. I think I just gave it to Don. And there you go."
Henley and J.D. Souther wrote lyrics to Campbell's tune, and released it on 1989's The End of the Innocence. As the third single, "The Heart of the Matter" peaked at No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100, although it reached No. 2 and No. 3 on the Mainstream Rock and Adult Contemporary charts.
Watch Don Henley Perform "The Heart of the Matter"