Desperation Takes Hold

‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ is a song by English rock band Joy Division, released in June 1980 as a non-album single.  NME New Musical Express a British music, film, gaming, and culture website and brand placed this song at #19 in its list of the 50 Greatest Indie Anthems Ever, and it is also listed as #5 in the “All Time Indie Top 50” by 23 Indie Street an online station.  It reached #1 on the UK Indie Chart, went to #13 on the UK Singles (OCC The Official UK Charts Company Limited) and it got to #42 on the US Billboard Disco Top 100.  This song is full of desperation and resentment, sadness and loss and it became a tribute to a dying relationship, where a haunted singer and a legendary band, express the bewildered feeling that something as good as love just can’t function anymore.  Joy Division singer Ian Curtis took his own life on May 18, 1980, and the song was released as a single the month after.  Ian Curtis married his girlfriend Deborah Woodruff in the summer of 1975, and the couple had a baby named Natalie in April 1979.

In 1976, Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook formed the band Joy Division in Salford, United Kingdom and after recording their self-released 1978 debut EP, they were signed to Tony Wilson’s independent label Factory Records.  The group consisted of vocalist Ian Curtis, guitarist/keyboardist Bernard Sumner, bassist Peter Hook and drummer Stephen Morris.  Joy Division had a few promising years and they completed two albums.  In 1978, a year before the band released its first album, Ian Curtis began suffering epileptic seizures.  He was officially diagnosed with epilepsy in January 1979, when his seizures grew more severe.  A critical buzz developed around Joy Division, but they were still an underground band, so they had to pack in as many gigs as possible until the album was released and playing four gigs in three days wasn’t an uncommon week.  The overwhelming pressure and stress of holding down a day job, not getting enough sleep, overdosing on his own medication, trying to grow his career as a singer, along with his marital problems and struggles with epilepsy became too much for Ian Curtis.  It was not easy having to juggle a wife and a mistress while dealing with an illness and a band that was relying on him.  Curtis banned his wife from coming to any the band’s gigs and he hung himself using a clothesline in the kitchen.

In October 1979, Curtis met Annik Honoré a Belgian journalist and music promoter and the two began a relationship, which caused further distress between Curtis and Deborah Woodruff, even though Annik said that their relationship was platonic.  In his suicide note to Deborah, he told her that he loved her.  It was nearing dawn when he wrote that he could hear birds singing.  The words “Love Will Tear Us Apart” were engraved as an epitaph on his headstone.  The other three members of the group Peter Hook, Stephen Morris, and Bernard Sumner decided to carry on and they became known as New Order, and they became one of the most successful bands in Britain.  Songfacts® stated that this was written as a cynical response to ‘Love Will Keep Us Together’ by The Captain & Tennille.

When routine bites hard and ambitions are low
And resentment rides high but emotions won’t grow
And we’re changing our ways, taking different roads

Then love, love will tear us apart again
Love, love will tear us apart again

Why is the bedroom so cold? You’ve turned away on your side
Is my timing that flawed? Our respect runs so dry
Yet there’s still this appeal that we’ve kept through our lives

But love, love will tear us apart again
Love, love will tear us apart again

Do you cry out in your sleep, all my failings exposed?
There’s a taste in my mouth as desperation takes hold
Just that something so good, just can’t function no more

But love, love will tear us apart again
Love, love will tear us apart again

Then love, love will tear us apart again
Love, love will tear us apart again

Written for Song Lyric Sunday where the theme this week is Indie music.

14 thoughts on “Desperation Takes Hold

  1. I recommend the movie ‘Control’ which is based on the life of Ian Curtis and Joy Division. It was their second album; ‘Closer’ that really got me into Joy Division. Dark and dense in places but also delicate and delightful in others.

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  2. Such a sad story about Curtis. Good song…if I would have felt better Jim…I would have given a Replacement song. I have a Big Star song for next week unless I find something else.

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      1. I don’t know if I told you…if I have I’m sorry…but Jen started to get what I got Saturday. We were both good Sunday but I have her a covid test…I didn’t know how to do it so I practiced on me…and…we both have covid! First time but I feel fine…the good thing is I get to work from home this week!

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      2. I am sorry to hear about that Max and I hope that you and Jen recover soon. I feel bad because I am writing a story now about a guy’s wife that is dying from Covid, but I started writing it before you alerted me of you catching it.

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      3. Oh no…we are fine. I had it for a day basically and had a fever…that was it. It was over so we both had a lite case. No problem at all.

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