Unknown Pleasures Die - Debbie and Ian Curtis - Joy Division Video
Unknown Pleasures, Ian Curtis and Joy Division Video
It is thirty years after Joy Division’s lead singer and lyricist Ian Curtis took his own life. Unknown Pleasures, Ian Curtis and Joy Division are still important musically thirty years on. Three years ago famed rock photographer Anton Corbijn released a movie Control which was a biopic of Curtis’ brief and tormented life. The documentary, 'Joy Division' was also released. The 2002 Michael Winterbottom film 24 Hour Party People featured Factory Records and Joy Division.
Their final single ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, and the Joy Division video released around Ian Curtis’s death still features in classic songs lists. Joy Division is bigger now than when they played in the post-punk era.The three Joy Division albums, Unknown Pleasures, Closer and Still have all been reissued. Unknown Pleasures is the darker, sparse debut album. It is representative of the harsh industrial North of England of that time. A perfect background for Joy Division art.
Curtis's May 18 1980 suicide has propelled Joy Division into the legends of myth. Think Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain or Jeff Buckley. Brilliant talents all gone before their prime, Curtis died at only 23. Curtis’ death adds a certain poignancy and romanticism to his lyrics and to Joy Division's music. Curtis seemed to come from a mournful, sad place. His failings as a husband and father and the personal torment of uncontrollable dyslexia led him to take his own life. After his death his band mates went onto form New Order. They enjoyed commercial success, something Ian Curtis didn’t. Curtis though will be remembered in permanent youth like Jim Morrison and Jeff Buckley. Unknown Pleasures, Ian Curtis and Joy Division all remain important in their own interconnected right. When you watch your next Joy Division video recall Joy Division art, recall Ian Curtis.
Joy Division Music
Ian Curtis and Joy Division
Joy Division was formed in 1976 in Salford, Northern England. They were originally called Warsaw. They released their debut EP “An ideal for living” in 1978. Their debut album, “Unknown Pleasures” was released in 1979. They recorded their second album “Closer’ in March 1980. Martin Hannett produced both albums. In March they released the Licht und Blindheit single featuring "Dead Souls" and "Atmosphere" on the French indie label Sordide Sentimental.
- Ian Curtis - vocals and occasional guitar
- Bernard Sumner - guitar and keyboards)
- Peter Hook - bass guitar and backing vocals
- Stephen Morris - drums and percussion
Joy Division made a pact that should any member leave; the remaining members would change the name of the group. When Ian Curtis died the band renamed themselves New Order. In the new band Sumner became lead singer and Stephen Morris's girlfriend Gillian Gilbert joined as keyboardist and second guitarist.
New Order's first single Ceremony was released in 1981. It included the last two songs they had written with Ian Curtis.
- In 1981 a compilation of live tracks and rare recordings called “ Still” was released.
- In 1988 Factory released a compilation called “Substance’ in 1988.
- In 1995 London Records released another compilation called Permanent. Factory Records went bankrupt in 1992 and London Records bought the Joy Division catalogue.
- In 1997 London Records released the box set ‘Heart and Soul’
- In 2008 another compilation album was released The Best of Joy Division.
Joy Division DVD
Ian Curtis Epilepsy and Suicide
Ian Curtis suffered from epilepsy. The lyric "Get a taste in my mouth" from Love will tear us apart is likely a reference to his epilepsy. Just before a seizure sufferers say there is a strange taste in your mouth. Ian’s life began to be overtaken by epilepsy and depression took hold. The lack of sleep from touring destabilized his epilepsy. The seizures occurred more regularly and became more uncontrollable. He suffered seizures onstage. On the final European tour Ian was in very poor health. The lead singer of 'A Certain Ration' stepped in to replace him live a few times.
On 7 April while in tour Curtis attempted suicide by overdosing on phenobarbitone. He recovered and returned to England. The depression was to engulf him again though. Curtis betrayal of his wife and daughter with this affair had caused him despair, grief and a terrible emptiness in his heart. The night before he was due to leave on Joy Division’s U.S. tour he sought reconciliation with his estranged wife Debbie.
That evening Ian returned to his home in Macclesfield. He asked Debbie to drop the divorce. After she wouldn’t he asked her to leave the house while he prepared to leave for the tour. Ian hung himself in the family kitchen. His wife returned around midday May 18 1980 and found him. Love Will Tear us Apart was released in June 1980 as a posthumous single.
Ian Curtis Books
Ian Curtis a Poet of his Time
Unknown Pleasures, Ian Curtis and Joy Division come into focus when you read widow Deborah Curtis’ 1995 biography of her husband Touching from a Distance. Curtis was an intently private man, which has lead to much interpretation over his lyrics. The myth building has romanticized much of his work. Each Joy Division video emphasizes this. “Love Will Tear Us Apart” is a good example of this. The excepted wisdom is the song is about Curtis’ relationship with his wife and his regrets about his affair.
However he could have been referring to his relationship with his Belgian mistress. Perhaps it is about his guilt about the absence from his young daughter. Less romantic is the uncontrollable epileptic seizures Ian Curtis suffered were just too much. This is more than palpable given the band was leaving on an American tour that day. Perhaps the lyrics were nothing but brilliant wordsmanship metaphorically speaking. This is the beauty of Ian Curtis’s iyrics they are open to interpretation and have brilliantly survived the passing of time. That is what makes Joy Division art.
Debbie Curtis’ biopic tells us of Ian’s’ emotional distance. His temperamental controlling nature is brought out in the book. His life reads like many of the great tragic poets with a tragic romance to boot. Joy Division begat New Order whom begat a whole new sound that became known as Madchester and then Brit Pop. One wonders where the post punk poet Ian Curtis would have fitted in over the ensuing years. Unknown Pleasures, Ian Curtis and Joy Division are remanded fondly and more romantically as the years go by.
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