Oh the mud splattered victims
Have to pay out all along the ancient highway
Torn between half truth and victimization
Fighting back with counter attacks

It's when that rough god goes riding
When the rough god goes gliding
And then rough god goes riding
Riding on in

I was flabbergasted by the headlines
People in glasshouses throwing stones
Gaping wounds that will never heal
Now they're moaning like a dog in a manger

It's when that rough god goes riding
And then the rough god goes gliding
There'll be nobody hiding
When that rough god comes riding on in

And it's a matter of survival
When you're born with your back against the wall
Won't somebody hand me a bible
Won't you give me that number to call

When that rough god goes riding
And then that rough god goes gliding
They'll be nobody hiding
When that rough god goes riding on in
Riding on in

When that rough god goes riding
When that rough god goes gliding
There'll be nobody hiding
When that rough god goes riding on in
Riding on in

There'll be no more heroes
They'll be reduced to zero
When that rough god goes riding
Riding on in
Riding on in
Riding on in
Riding on in


Lyrics submitted by yuri_sucupira

Rough God Goes Riding Lyrics as written by Van Morrison

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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Rough God Goes Riding song meanings
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6 Comments

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  • +1
    My Interpretation

    It seems to be about being savaged by a hostile press ('gaping wounds that never heal') and yet those malicious attacks hurt the perpetrators as much as their victims ("now they're moaning like a dog in a manger") - a very Buddhist notion of karma.

    The song says that we're all headed towards the same ending - death ("when that rough god comes riding in") - the implication is that we ought to spend what time we have well, rather than spitefully wounding others.

    Paegaon October 31, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    It's obviously about some kind of disaster - I suspect something specific, but I don't know what. But the point of the song is that some people are born into unfortunate circumstances; "rough god" is a metaphor for the downside of luck and fortune.

    Lesyeuxdeserpenton April 25, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Very simple really. This song is about judgment day. Nobody can hide. Riding in on a horse for the Apocalypse

    blackbagon March 24, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    this song is inspired by W.B. Yeats "Second Coming". The Rough God is Jesus Christ.

    Athension April 08, 2016   Link
  • 0
    My Opinion

    Who doesn't get a rough deal in life at one time or another?
    Look at Movie Stars crying for attention: needy vacuums, you think, sometimes. Look at the poor: some shine from the inside, while cleaned up & given an opportunity to change top to bottom, some return to the bottom without a thought. Is that God Rough Riding? Where are we in the midst? It's hardly 1-dimensional. And what about the hand we are dealt? Our health, looks, parents, conditions? So is the song something laid on us? Van has said it. He's just a Songwriter. He's in the mix....we are in the mix Rough & smooth: Sand paper applications. Imagine learning as working with being wrong. If not, we couldn't improve on us.
    See what I mean? We have to experience consequences to improve or be numb.

    000/on May 07, 2018   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    The fact that Sir George Ivan Morrison has included WB Yeats in his long list of influential artists, musicians and poets leads me to consider that this song is some kind of interpretation of The Secong Coming, which in itself is a prophesy based on Revelations. The more you pay attention to the state of humanity in the Roaring ‘20’s it’s not hard to view the chaos we witness as being apocalyptic.

    I grew up in the second half of the Twentieth Century in the aftermath of World War 2. All around we saw past signs of countless crimes of war and crimes against humanity. America was prosperous as were many nations that took advantage of technological advances and a more civilized progressive society. While there were still significant challenges and difficulties, some among us believed the worst of days were over. The freedom movement lead by ML King, Mandala etc and the peace movement influenced by JFK, Gandhi and so many others were promising signs that a wave of goodness and kindheartedness was growing. But as the assassinations and acts of terror, corruption and seemingly never ending violence, repression and manipulation reared their ugly heads, we discovered that evil had not disappeared; it merely disguised itself through propaganda as something benign. As Yeats so eloquently put it, “Surely the Second Coming is at hand”.

    Van Morrison reveals many things about himself in his remarkable body of hundreds and hundreds of masterpieces. It’s an understatement to say that he’s a man of God even though he isn’t pinned down to any particular religion or philosophical context. But over the last few years he’s shown that he’s also a man of truth which in this age of misinformation is not always the easiest path to take. His views on the pandemic with its harmful impact based on what he saw to be pseudoscience turned off many of his fans and drew attacks from others in the music business and media. But rather than get pushed around (something he’s never done) he put out a slew of songs that only meant something if you happened to be playing close attention to the lawlessness and brutality forced on people like never before done in lockstep by fascist governments all over the world. While it’s impossible to know what’s in store for us all as we move into the middle of this decade, when you see psychopathic behavior so prevalent and widespread causing leaders of nations more committed to serving the masters of war and deceit than to the people who they are sworn to serve and protect, you don’t have to be a genius to recognize that the walls are about to come crumbling down.

    Just like trying to interpret a Yeats poem, Van leaves much of the meaning of Rough God up to the listener. He talks about this in many interviews that part of the magic and wonders of art are in the eyes of the listener or viewer. For me being a spiritual seeker of truth and practitioner of peace over my five decades of adulthood, I look at this song as a vision of a creator stepping in to take back control of the creation He/She/It manifests out of pure love. But rather than strike down the evil in the way that the God of the Jews did to the Egyptians way back when, this time around the elites who somehow think they have the right to play god will destroy themselves.

    There’ll be no more heroes They’ll be reduced to zero When that Rough God goes riding Riding on in

    Jeffbookmanon December 31, 2023   Link

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