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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 014
Thurs, Feb 7, 2013

“Love Will Tear Us Apart”
Joy Division

1980

“♫ And
there’s a
taste in my
mouth as
desperation
takes hold
♫”

As a lonely teenager, “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” was the one song that would literally scare me. You see I was afraid of being alone and I used to think that Ian Curtis’ last lyrical eulogy was a chorus like canker to my self confidence. Even though I was young, I feared ending up disconnected and alone. While, Ian’s words read like a sermon to my flailing love affairs, “Love Will Tear Us Apart” was the soundtrack to my failed relationships.

Looking back it was just a lyrical coincidence. I was so wrong and naïve, I was such a silly boy, “Love Will Tear Us Apart” wasn’t mirroring my young inexperienced life; Ian’s “Love” was a song reflection inside Curtis’ internal fear tearing us own life apart. Then Joy Division guitarist and now New Order vocalist Bernard Sumner talked about Ian’s headspace while the band recorded “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” when he recalled, “He’d got married very, very young. And by the time of that song, he’d come to a fork in the road, relationship-wise. His life had changed enormously, and he had to make a choice. We thought his headspace was OK. But Ian had two faces – the public face for the band and the private troubles he had at home and the way they came out through his lyrics. We didn’t really listen to the lyrics. Joy Division was four people on pedestals, and we didn’t communicate with each other about what the songs are about.”

Drummer Stephen Morris had a different recollection about “Love Will Tear Us Apart” as he told the NME, “I just thought ‘Yeah, this is a good song’, someone might like it. It was a great period for the band, but Ian’s personal life – that was all going badly. In retrospect, when you listen to it in light of what happened, it seems bloody obvious. I honestly didn’t realize that he was writing about himself. I just said ‘These are great lyrics, Ian’. That makes it a bit difficult to listen to now.”

Bassist Peter Hook said this about Joy Division’s most famous song, “It still sends a shiver down my spine. Especially because I know the people involved. It masquerades as this cute little pop song, which is one of its delightful ironies.”
Stephen Morris

Morris, still cringes when he hears the single version of “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” but not for the anguish reasons you would imagine, as Stephen explained to GQ when he said, “The one that everybody knows, I actually hate. Just because of the bad, emotional things. Martin Hannett [ Joy Division record producer] played one of his mind games when we were recording it – it sounds like he was a tyrant, but he wasn’t, he was nice. We had this one battle where it was nearly midnight and I said, “Is it all right if I go home, Martin – it’s been a long day?” And he said [whispers], “OK… you go home.” So I went back to the flat. Just got to sleep and the phone rings. “Martin wants you to come back and do the snare drum.” At four in the morning! I said, “What’s wrong with the snare drum!?” So every time I hear “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, I grit my teeth and remember myself shouting down the phone, “YOU BASTARD!” [smashes up imaginary phone.] I can feel the anger in it even now. It’s a great song and it’s great production, but I do get anguished every time I hear it.”

I’ve started reading Peter Hook’s incredible new book, Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division, and he shares the insight talking specifically about secrets behind one of Manchester’s most enigmatically memorable bands. Did you know “Love Will Tear Us Apart” used a synthesizer instead of a guitar, like in the song “Something Must Break” as Hook explained when he wrote, “there’s no guitar on it. It’s the same technique we used to write “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” actually. There was no guitar on that when we first wrote it, just Bernard playing synth, me on bass, Steve on drums and Ian’s vocals. Even live, when we used to play [“Love Will Tear Us Apart”] there was no guitar on it, which gave it a different, unusual sound. It was still a fantastic song and the melody was a great one.”
Ian Curtis

Hooky is right, now when I hear “Love Will Tear Us Apart” my ears perk up with a new found enthusiastic fervor, saved one of Ian Curtis’s legacy classics. More than just a soundtrack for love sick outcasts, “Love Will Tear Us Apart” is the same song that NME named the greatest track in the last 60 years. Post Punk was born by Joy Division. The perfect amalgamation of the darkness and light, Ian Curtis’ “Love” lives on glowing eternally clock striking midnight on this Joy Division timeless cut of this anti-“Love” anthem. Still, the breaking of a heart never sounded as memorable as in, Ian Curtis’ final perfect lyrical kiss of “Love Will Tear Us Apart.”
Ian Curtis At The Factory

And here’s drummer Stephen Morris preferred version of “Love Will Tear us Apart,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Wm9o-Esk4k , as he explained to GQ, “The Pennine version has always been there – it was on the b-side of the 12-inch when it first came out. But it wasn’t called “The Pennine Mix” or anything like that, it was just “Love Will Tear Us Apart” but a slightly different version. That version was the way we always played it live.

And how can I forget Michael Gira and The Swans brilliant acoustic cover of “Love Will Tear Us Apart:” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1eRM2fAwkc

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