Wednesday, May 18, 2005

25 years after Ian’s death

I wasn’t one-year-old yet when Ian Curtis hanged himself. Now, I’m not gonna act like an expert…. or even a fan (I don’t own any Joy Division albums) but because Ian’s lyrics intimately reached the masses, I want to write a post to honor his 25th death anniversary.

I heard at least 4 different bands covering “Love will tear us apart” years before I heard the original, and I know many people agree that other bands covering it (New Order and The Cure come to mind) surpass the original, but a part of me believes that Ian was holding back.

Maybe New Order put more emotion in it because SOMEONE ELSE wrote it, therefore singing it with tons of emotion won’t make it seem totally autobiographical. Autobiographies make you naked and vulnerable. But when Ian sang it, he was robotic and removed. If you listen closely, he sounds like a lounge singer wearing a tux and snapping his fingers like Tony Bennett. My theory is that he sang hokily on purpose because that made it seem like he was singing about someone else’s problem.

But I think the tragic thing about Ian’s suicide is that many of us share his same paranoia. Thinking that the whole world is more interested in watching us break down than listening to what we have to say. Thinking that falling flat on your face is entertainment for others. Unfortunately for Ian, this paranoia led him to take his own life.

I have two people close to me who, like Ian did, suffer from epilepsy. Therefore, someone like Ian is important to listen to, because what I learned is that epileptics have a tendency to tell strangers things that they don't tell their closest friends and family. Listening to his lyrics helped me to better understand them.

I remember one hot, sweaty, summer day I was at a zine festival and sort of on a first date. There were people at tables promoting zines everywhere and bands playing loudly on stage. I walked past tables trying to find this guy and when we finally met eyes, this punk band took the stage and very loudly played… what else? Love will tear us apart. We looked at each other and smiled as the singer angrily screamed the lyrics and the bass and drums made the zines jump on the tables. When moments like that happen in movies, they have songs like “Why do birds suddenly appear?” in the background. The whole scene was ironic. A part of me saw it as a bad sign, even a prophecy, but I kept that to myself.

Oh, going back to covers…. I think bands really need to stop covering this song. Why is there a shitty version of this song in every genre now? Come on now, take a break you are killing it. DJs, you too…. we don’t need any more remixes.

So I just realized this post was supposed to be about Ian and his suicide, but it ended up being all about one song. So one more comment about suicide before I sign off…

Suicide is not funny (unless you are this bunny.)

Bye bye!


When the routine bites hard
And ambitions are low
And the 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

Why is the bedroom so cold
Turned away on your side?
Is my timing that flawed,
Our respect run so dry?
Yet there’s still this appeal
That we’ve kept through our lives
Love, love will tear us apart again

Do you cry out in your sleep
All my failings expose?
Get a taste in my mouth
As desperation takes hold
Is it something so good
Just can’t function no more?
When love, love will tear us apart again


At 4:15 PM, Blogger Fly said...

Back in high school I used to recite this poem by Kazi Nasrul...I think it was Kazi Nazrul but translated it was called The Curse.

It was about 1971, and the aftermath of the Liberation war. It was about the blood spill. It was angry. It was bitter and it was emotional.

Not having lived through the experience I read that poem with such intensity that I've seen crowds of Bengalis cry after my recital of the poem. I moved them, or rather the poem moved them.

Years later I was writing a poem at Cafe 52. IT was about my experience with suicide and a former fixation I had with drowning and my fear of failure. The girlfriend sitting next to me insisted that not only I share it with her but that I read it to her.

I've been reciting poetry since I was 9. Not like lymerics, but poetry. Anyway I began reading that poem to that girl and I just couldn't get into it. Not the way it was meant to be. I read it with an embarassed smile without any emphasis and she complemented me with a smile and thats so sweet.

She thought my poem was about not knowing how to swim as a kid. Ironically I don't know how to swim, but my point is - sometimes even when you have the words to say what you want -- you cant express them how you want.

Sometimes you just have to protect yourself. The important thing though is that before Ian Curtis died, he got a chance to write one really great song. Another song on that mixI really loved. Thanks again.

I don't think I shared that poem with anyone again. It was too personal, but maybe I will. Maybe this time I'll just share it with a stranger.


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