Van Morrison’s 50 Greatest Songs Countdown – #18 And The Healing Has Begun

And we’ll walk down the avenue again
And we’ll sing all the songs from way back when
And we’ll walk down the avenue again and the healing has begun
And we’ll walk down the avenue in style

TOC

  1. Facts
  2. Quotes
  3. Lyrics
  4. Live versions
  5. Cover versions

Facts


Wikipedia:

“And the Healing Has Begun” was recorded at the Record Plant Studios in Sausalito, California in spring 1979 with Mick Glossop acting as engineer.

Biographer Brian Hinton calls it the central song in the album and perhaps in Morrison’s whole career: “It starts just like ‘Cyprus Avenue‘, no coincidence as the line about ‘songs from way back when’ hints, and with a walk down the avenue (of dreams), to the sound of a haunted violin. A song of full, blazing sex as well as revelation. The healing here is like that in Arthurian myth, the wounded King restored through the action of the Holy Grail, but it is also through as graphic a seduction, almost, as the original live version of “Gloria“‘.

Author Clinton Heylin concludes that “what makes the song, and indeed Into the Music work is its self-awareness. Gone is the awkward self-consciousness… It is replaced by a newly assured tone, born of a genuine awareness of what he (Morrison) was attempting.”

Musicians

Live:

  • Known Performances: 278
  • First performance: October 4, 1979 in Boston, US
  • Last performance: August 1, 2019 in Bellaghy, Northern Ireland

Quotes

The song starts out in the spirit of a post-gig jam, something which has grown out of music itself, matching a live looseness with a studio clarity and in this way the record both concludes and introduces important sets of ideas and methodologies in Morrison’s lyrical and musical vocabulary. This song embodies this sense of something good getting going, even in its title. It opens up slowly yet directly, like something suddenly becoming clear over the horizon where once vision was obscure: it achieves this by returning to source. It makes a direct connection between place and felling, locale and experience – `the avenue’ provides not only the context for all that will happen, but is also somehow how both cause and effect of its own processes. It sounds fantastic; the textures of each instrument rich and direct, finding their place in the mix, and the track acquires an entirely naturalised atmospheric. The ensemble has discovered a sound and they are going to explore it.
–> Peter Mills (Hymns to the Silence – Inside the Words and Music of Van Morrison)

And The Healing Has Begun’ iş the central song here, and perhaps in Morrison’s whole career. It starts just like ‘Cyprus Avenue’, no coincidence as the line about “songs from way back when” hints, and with a walk down the avenue (of dreams), to the sound of a haunted violin. A song of full, blazing sex as well as revelation. The healing here is like that in Arthurian myth, the wounded King restored through the action of the Grail, but it is also through as graphic a seduction, almost, as the original live version of ‘Gloria’. Van even names the drinks and musical accompaniment – Muddy Waters of course.
Talking later to Dermot Stokes of Hot Press, Van goes into ancient teachings he is resurrecting here: “In the old days if someone was sick, they’d get a harp and play a chord for a certain thing – to heal this affliction or whatever. And these teachings are still floating around in various religious sects. They’ve been lost but you can still dig them out.” Largely due to the work of the likes of Morrison, these ancient techniques are very much part of the contemporary “healing arts” movement. My own local hospital in Southampton now employs a musician to play to sick children, and help their recovery, through sounds of joy.
–> Brian Hinton (Celtic Crossroads – The Art of Van Morrison)

The subsequent two tracks, ‘And The Healing Has Begun’ and ‘You Know What They’re Writing About’, were further manifestations of Van going deeper and deeper within himself. He seemed to be purging himself through the music, trying to attain wisdom by entering a trance-like state and exploring the healing power of music. He is wrestling with doubts and dilemmas, having a public dialogue with himself, and apparently gaining some sort of resolution (though certainly not a revelation) through these lengthy workouts, where time was no longer the point. It all went on as long as Van felt happy with it, and then it wound down, to silence. …
And The Healing Has Begun’ is no spiritual odyssey though. Morrison sings of a favourite Muddy Waters record, of returning from a gig, of rock’n’roll and making music with a violin and two guitars… It is a troubadour’s testament to his muse, and to that other equally strong incentive which makes a young man follow the rock’n’roll route – what Morrison calls that “backstreet jellyroll”.
–> Patrick Humphries (The Complete Guide to the Music of Van Morrison)

Thankfully, Van has left the best till last with the remaining 3 songs. The trio begins with the hugely enjoyable 8-minute effort, And the Healing Has Begun. The song’s initial acoustic beginning is very reminiscent of Astral Weeks. The strings create a hypnotic backdrop for Van to produce an impassioned vocal. One part of the song that works for me, but for the wrong reasons, is the spoken part with Van trying to be romantic. I find it quite funny, which I don’t suppose, was the intention. Overall, it is a very successful piece with Van firing from the heart. The last minute or so really benefits from a tremendous, passionate vocal, which really works well. It is probably the successful use of classical instruments that enables the music to stay so fresh and immune from dating -according to my ears, which have obviously dated over time!
–> Mark Holmes (Van Morrison 20 Best Albums: A Guide (Kindle Edition)

Lyrics

And we’ll walk down the avenue again
And we’ll sing all the songs from way back when
And we’ll walk down the avenue again and the healing has begun
And we’ll walk down the avenue in style

And we’ll walk down the avenue and we’ll smile
And we’ll say “baby, ain’t it all worthwhile?” when the healing has begun
I want you to put on your pretty summer dress
You can wear your Easter bonnet and all the rest

And I want to make love to you yes, yes, yes, when the healing has begun
Louder, when the healing has begun
So good
Whoo
All right, whoo
Yeah
Aah
Whoo

When you hear the music ringin’ in your soul
And you feel it in your heart and it grows and grows
And it came from the backstreet rock and roll and the healing has begun
That’s where we come from, man
I want you to put on your old summer red dress
Put on your Easter bonnet and all the rest
And I want to make love to you yes, yes and the healing has begun, ow

I can’t stand myself
We’re gonna make music underneath the stars
We’re gonna play to the violin and the two guitars
And we’ll sit there for playing in our for hours and hours and hours and hours
And hours and hours and hours and hours, when the healing has begun
And hours and hours and hours and hours, when the healing has begun

Wait a minute, wait
Listen, listen, listen
Listen, I didn’t know you stayed up so late
I want you to know I just got home from a, from a gig
And I saw you standing on the street
Just let me move on up here to this windowsill a little bit, here
Yeah, I got some sherry
A drop of port
Yeah, I want you to come on in behind, behind this door here
Oh, let’s just move on up this, this letter-box
Why don’t we just go up in your front room?
Let’s just sit down and take tea
I’ll just move over there a little bit now
Yeah, I’m gonna play this Muddy Waters record you got there
Oh, if you just open up a little bit
And let me come on in one some backstreet jellyroll

We’re gonna stay out all night long
And then we’re gonna go out and roam across the field
Baby you know how I feel when the healing has begun

When the healing, when the healing has begun
When the healing, when the healing has begun
We’re gonna dance, we’re gonna stay out all night long
We’re gonna dance to the rock and roll
When the healing when the healing has begun
Has begun
Now you just
Let me ease on a little bit
Well, dig this
Backstreet jellyroll
When the healing, when the healing has begun
Yeah, when the healing has begun, and the healing, and the healing

Live versions

Belfast, Northern Ireland – November 5, 1986

Manchester, England – October 7, 1999

Ross-On-Wye, England – August 24, 2001

Torquay, England – August 14, 2004

Forest Hills Stadium, NYC, US – June 19, 2015

Cover Versions

The Waterboys – Glastonbury 1986

Sources

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