ORIGINALLY POSTED ON TUESDAY 10 JUNE 2008
(and again on 1 November 2013)
Joy Division, as a band, caused me huge problems. There I was, 16 years of age raving about them in the 5th Year Common Room when somebody threw an article from a music paper that declared the band and their followers to be Nazi/Fascists. How could this be so?
At that age, I wasn’t clever enough to argue my case….I just took it on the chin, and stopped admitting that I love the band. The records were hidden away in the style that other teenagers would hide porno mags – out of sight and only brought out when it was safe to do so. They were certainly never around when any mates came by.
Then one day, Ian Curtis hanged himself. The music papers were full of it. At school, it was suddenly OK to talk about the band again – they were now a chart success thanks to the posthumous release of Love Will Tear Us Apart.
Everyone rushed out and bought that single and then the LP Closer.
‘No wonder he killed himself if that’s the sort of music he was writing’ was the common consensus of the playground cognoscenti.
At the time I kind of believed it myself as nobody at that time, even within the confines of the group, really understood just how tortured he was trying to juggle his life, wife, child, mistress, illness and his music. I had the albums – and they were really dark and sometimes difficult to listen to. They were certainly no good for putting on at parties and hoping to ‘get off’ with a female classmate.
But everyone I knew adored LWTUA….it was something you could dance to. It was pop…it passed over quickly when you just absorbed its catchy chorus.
Was I the only one who realised that it was about pain and misery? The sort of pain and misery that hit you when, after spending what seemed like hours (but was probably only 10 minutes) trying to connect with the girl of your dreams at a party, only to later see her that evening ‘get off’ with someone else and then the news spread on Monday that she and the boy were ‘an item.’
Why didn’t I make a move?? Why didn’t I try to talk to her a bit about Joy Division and the other great records that no-one knew about – songs which were just so unlike anything else in yours or anybody’s record collection. Why hadn’t I made myself seem interesting???
LWTUA has always been a song to remind me of ‘what might have been’….
If I hadn’t been so quick to bow to peer pressure and ‘disown’ the band in public, would I have become the cool kid in class? Probably not…
If Ian Curtis had known how big this song was going to be, would he have taken his own life?? Sadly, I think he would have….
If this song hadn’t made so much money, what would have happened to Tony Wilson and Factory Records??? They probably wouldn’t have been solvent in 1982…
If Ian Curtis hadn’t written LWTUA, would some other tortured soul have come along a few years later and said the same thing??? Now that is a question of conjecture…..but I actually think someone would have. Who??? I have no idea….but someone, somewhere in time would have….David Gedge?
And yet….despite all of this, I still don’t think LWTUA is the best single that Barney, Hooky, Ian and Stephen (not forgetting Martin) released on an unsuspecting public. That honour belongs to this bit of plastic:-
mp3 : Joy Division – Transmission
mp3 : Joy Division – Novelty
Hooky’s basslines grab you in, Stephen’s drumming sets a beat that makes you want to jump out of your seat while Barney’s guitar work reminds you of the punk ethos when anyone could pick up an instrument and play.
But it’s THAT voice that sets this track apart. It’s the sound of someone reaching deep inside his own soul and then straining it through every nerve in his body before hitting the listener hard in the chest with its power and authority. And just as you think he can hit you no more he screams…
‘And We Can Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaance’.
I did. As did many others.
Things were never the same ever again.