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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 95
Fri. May 3, 2013

“Atmosphere”
Joy Division

1980

“♫ Don’t
walk
away/ in
silence
♫”

My brother told me his wife stopped speaking right before she died. I couldn’t believe his words; I didn’t know what to say. I can’t imagine the pain watching the one that you love drift away in silence. That word silence immediately triggered… hitting a musical chord, it’s just the way that I think, and anything that happens in my life is reflected through my most beloved songs. I thought of “Atmosphere,” one of Joy Division’s most poignant and slow moving anthems. Bassist Peter Hook said this about “Atmosphere,” Joy Division’s posthumous single was a tribute to their deceased lead singer and songwriter Ian Curtis, “I can remember a lot about ‘Atmosphere’, actually, because it was written in two halves. Steve and I had the rhythm and an idea for a song, and Bernard and Ian had the vocals and chords, and an idea for a song. They were waiting for us to come up with some bass and drums for their idea, and we were waiting for some chords and vocals from them, and it just came together. It was the biggest stroke of luck. It’s one of the most played track at funerals, apparently.”

I remember being at their wedding, when I first moved to Chicago, I had to fly back to San Antonio to attend their ceremony. My parents reminded me that I composed a poem that I read during the reception. I remember writing the poem. I sat at his park bench in front of the Lake which coincidentally was right behind my North Side apartment. I remember looking at the water reflecting back at me and thinking about my little brother and his wife and the words just appeared so magically.

I remembered how much they laughed together. And now there’s… no joy… just silence. My parents told me about the ordeal that may little brother faced watching his wife lose her battle with cancer. I just hear the words over and over again, when his stopped communicating is when my brother knew she was going to pass away. All that’s left is silence. So much silence. What can you say in a moment like this? All I’ve been doing is spinning “Atmosphere” for my little brother and I honor Carol as a tribute to her soft spoken eloquence; I think back to something Peter Hook later told NME, the bassist wants “Atmosphere” played at his own funeral. Why wouldn’t he? “Atmosphere” is a timeless hymn that honors Joy Division’s brilliant lyricist. A touchstone engraved, immortalizing Ian Curtis lyrics in the pantheons of greatness. And today we sing, through this tribute to Ian Curtis, this hymn for you. We miss you Carol.

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