The Healing Game

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The Healing Game
The Healing Game.jpg
Studio album by Van Morrison
Released 4 March 1997
Reissued June 2008
Recorded 1996 at Westland Studios and Windmill Lane Studios, Dublin
Genre Folk rock
Length 53:38
Label Polydor
Producer Van Morrison
Van Morrison chronology
Tell Me Something: The Songs of Mose Allison
The Healing Game
The Philosopher's Stone
Singles from The Healing Game
  1. "The Healing Game" b/w "Have I Told You Lately"/"Whenever God Shines His Light"/"Gloria"
    Released: January 1997
  2. "The Healing Game" b/w "Full Force Gale 96"/"Look at What the Good People Done"/"Celtic Spring"
    Released: January 1997
  3. "Rough God Goes Riding" b/w "At the End of the Day"/"The Healing Game"
    Released: May 1997

The Healing Game is the twenty-sixth studio album by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison, released in 1997 (see 1997 in music).

The 30 June 2008 reissued and remastered version of the album contains a take of the "Rough God Goes Riding" B-side "At the End of the Day". "Rough God Goes Riding" from this album was listed as one of the standout tracks from the six album reissue.[1]

Recording history[edit]

The album was recorded in Dublin, Ireland. The cover features a threatening-looking Morrison with Haji Ahkba alongside looking like he is one of his bodyguards.


The title song "The Healing Game" is about the tradition of Belfast street singing. Van Morrison in Q magazine said, "People find it incredible when I tell them that people used to sing and play music in the street. I think there's a whole oral tradition that's disappeared." The song, "Rough God Goes Riding" is taken from a W. B. Yeats poem "The Second Coming" with its figure from the Apocalypse "rough beast". Leo Green's saxophone follows Morrison's voice like a twin brother. In "Waiting Game" he is "the brother of the snake" which Brian Hinton says refers to both his lost friend Jim Morrison (known for writing about "The Lizard King"), and the Garden of Eden. "Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" follows the children's book, The Wind in the Willows closely and Paddy Moloney plays uillean pipes with Phil Coulter on piano. On "Burning Ground" the singer relives a common scene from his childhood when jute was shipped to Belfast from India.[2]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars link
Rolling Stone (Not Rated) link

Music critic Greil Marcus was favourably impressed with the album and wrote: "Morrison dominates each song on The Healing Game - but the word song seems much too small here. Like the rough god he sings about, Morrison is astride each incident in the music, each pause in a greater story, but often the most revealing moments—the moments that reveal the shape of a world, a point of view, an argument about life—are at the margins."[3]

Track listing[edit]

All songs by Van Morrison

  1. "Rough God Goes Riding" – 6:19
  2. "Fire in the Belly" – 6:34
  3. "This Weight" – 4:37
  4. "Waiting Game" – 5:56
  5. "Piper at the Gates of Dawn" – 3:53
  6. "Burning Ground" – 5:38
  7. "It Once Was My Life" – 5:10
  8. "Sometimes We Cry" – 5:14
  9. "If You Love Me" – 5:01
  10. "The Healing Game" – 5:16

Bonus track (2008 CD reissue)[edit]

  1. "At the End of the Day" – 4:32




  • Production: Van Morrison
  • Recording: Walter Samuel, Enda Walsh ("Piper at the Gates of Dawn", "At the End of the Day")
  • Assistant engineering: David Slevin, Ciaran Cahill, Matthew Lawrence anad Neil Douglas
  • Mixing: Walter Samuel
  • Technical support: David Conroy
  • Mastering: Tim Young
  • Art direction and design: Matt Curtis @ Abrahams Pants
  • Photography: Paul Cox


Album - UK Album Chart

Year Chart Position
1997 UK Album Chart 10

Album - Billboard (North America)

Year Chart Position
1997 The Billboard 200 32


  1. ^ "Catalog Reissues by Van Morrison on Blurt Online". Retrieved 2009-11-02. 
  2. ^ Hinton, Celtic Crossroads, p.333-336
  3. ^ Marcus,When That Rough God Goes Riding, p.115


External links[edit]