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Love Will Tear Us Apart (1980) - Joy Division - All about the song ...

"It's actually pretty weird because the lyrics are very dark, but I find this song very inspiring! No other Joy Division song works like this! People go crazy for this song when we play it live... But it's really quite dark and heavy..."

Story of the song "Love Will Tear Us Apart"

"Love Will Tear Us Apart" is a famous hit track by the British rock band Joy Division. It was released on the band's final single. The title translates as "Love Will Tear Us Apart," and... it has a very big and very intimate meaning for the author himself, Ian Curtis...

Surely many listeners (especially Joy Division fans) would agree that today the creativity of this band cannot be viewed otherwise than through the prism of the tragic death of its leader... And as for "Love Will Tear Us Apart", as many critics put it: "finally someone who really meant what he was singing about has been found...". But why? Why is Joy Division's work shrouded in darkness and heartbreak? Is it because the band was formed in Manchester, the former industrial center of Britain, which by the '70s had become a depressing corner of the Earth? As guitarist Bernard Sumner said in one of his interviews, "...we were always looking for something beautiful, because there was only ugliness around us... And I can't tell you exactly if I saw even one tree before I was nine..."

The idea for the song, the process of creating...

Ian Curtis
Ian Curtis

It's no secret that "Love Will Tear Us Apart" is all Ian Curtis' work... It's a pretty heavy lyric about love and heartache... Here's a little snippet of lyrics as an example:

"Mutual respect goes to hell.
As long as the desire still burns within us,
Keeping us safe for many years,
But love, love will tear us apart..."

Many listeners are sure that Curtis addressed his creation on the basis of his personal life experience... And it is true. And the musician experienced these difficult circumstances very painfully... His painful relationship with his wife, as well as his affair on the side, became the reason for his departure... But about this later. For now, let's get back to the song. Curtis' bandmates said the following about "Love Will Tear Us Apart":

Stephen Morris: "...at that time the band were having their best days! What unfortunately could not be said about Ian... He had huge problems, and they had to do with his personal life. When he showed us the song, we all thought it would be a great track! But I had no idea at the time that he had written this dark lyric about himself... I just said: "Yeah, it's a great lyric!" But now...now I'm having a hard time listening to this song, being aware of all these circumstances..."

joy division
Joy Division

Bernard Sumner: "...he got married early. He was very, very young... And then he was faced with one hell of a choice. We were sure Ian was all right in the head! But we were wrong... as it turned out, he had several images: a public one for the band and the fans, and a real one under which he was hiding his personal problems... in fact you could only learn about his personal tragedies through his songs. But we didn't listen to his lyrics... We never discussed with each other what the hell this or that lyric meant..."

Ian Curtis.
Ian Curtis.

Peter Hook: "...I only analyzed the lyrics of 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' when I had to sing it again..."

But what personal tragedy are we talking about? What was it about the iconic Joy Division leader in the latter stages of his life that so deeply affected him?

Personal tragedy...

It was the dark character that Curtis endowed on each of his creations that gave Joy Division its reputation as a hopelessly depressing band... His low, you could say almost impassive voice was in stark contrast to the stage performances, where Curtis seemed to fall into a trance... He charmed the audience with robot-like movements that were eerily similar to convulsions... And he did suffer: very, very much...

It all started in the late '70s: it was then, at a concert in Brussels, that Curtis met the Belgian journalist and music promoter Annick Honore. A passion broke out between them, which was followed by a frenzied romance! But he was tormented by shame and guilt... He had a wife (who, incidentally, he forbade any contact with other men) and a daughter. But the desire to be near Annik was much stronger...

It came to the point where Curtis demanded that Sumner make a decision on his behalf: to stay with his wife, or to let his feelings go and get back together with the Belgian... Sumner, of course, refused to make any decisions for Curtis. Annick Honoré herself, after many years, declared that despite their long romance, there was only a platonic relationship between her and Curtis... According to Peter Hook's recollections:

"...he was very ill... He was constantly blaming himself, his epileptic seizures worsened... He was dear to all of us, but at the same time - he was his own worst enemy..."

Ian Curtis....
Ian Curtis....

Curtis' illness progressed. As a result, seizures began to occur right on stage... Curtis was experiencing a severe depression. His marriage to Deborah was specifically undermined... In addition, the musician continued to have a passion for Annick Honore. He could not go on like that... And his departure was a big shock for everyone: for the relatives, for the band, for the fans... After the death of the leader, the remaining members of Joy Division continued their activity, but as New Order. From the memories of Peter Hook:

"...Ian could be aggressive, but at the same time he wasn't like that inside... He was open, he went out of his way to meet people... He always set us up for success: 'We'll get through it!' he said... And he taught Sumner and me a lot..."

Release, success...

Cover of the single "love will tear us apart"
Cover of the single "love will tear us apart"

But let's get back to the song. Despite the fact that it was presented to the public in the fall of 1979, it did not become a hit track until the following summer... And, in many ways, its success was due to a tragic event: the death of the author himself...

As the years passed, "Love Will Tear Us Apart" was included in various prestigious tops, for example in the list of "500 best songs of all time". By the way: the video was made by the band themselves...

Interesting Facts…

  • Among the bands who recorded their cover of "Love Will Tear Us Apart" are U2 and The Cure.

  • The name of the composition is inscribed on the tombstone of its author...
  • Subsequently, a computer game of the same name was dedicated to this track!
  • In addition to personal experiences, there is a theory that Curtis wrote "Love Will Tear Us Apart" as a response to the track "Love Will Keep Us Together" by The Captain & Tennille.

  • In the book Destruction by Isabella Santacroce (a famous Italian writer), the main characters listen to this song on a rainy night, standing naked at the window...
  • For Peter Hook, this song evokes positive emotions, but with a touch of grief and depression:

"It's actually pretty weird because the lyrics are very dark, but I find this song very inspiring! No other Joy Division song works like that! People go crazy for this song when we play it live... But it's really quite dark and heavy..."

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