Substance, Joy Division
Factory Records, July 11, 1988
Track Listing: 1. Warsaw 2. Leaders of Men, 3. Digital, 4. Autosuggestion, 5. Transmission, 6. She’s Lost Control, 7. Incubation, 8. Dead Souls, 9. Atmosphere, 10. Love Will Tear Us Apart, Appendix: 11. No Love Lost, 12. Failures, 13. Glass, 14. From Safety to Where, 15.Novelty, 16. Komakino, 17. These Days
“And we would go on as though nothing was wrong
And hide from these days we remained all alone”
There’s a darkness. Darkness on the road. Darkness at the edge of night. A rich darkness that cuddles and kisses, caresses like fat gravestones, slick and cold. Marble loneliness, Green engravings for the blind: Born (blank), died (double-blank), in loving memory (memory-is-a-sick-flat-rock-cut-endlessly-by-the-sea-blank). There’s a dead bat in your Zen garden. A child peeing on your rug. Your body’s dying and you’ve run out of sleeping pills. The world’s one long flat dark, darker still. Oh how beautiful the dark ones, the lonely ones, the frail hounds who sing softly called in isolation. In agony. Unheard and desperate. The chewed-upon. The threadbare, the howling watchdogs of the night—they who limp and wander, ragged and slow, back to the wet rug that is home.
“People like you find it easy
Naked to see
Walking on air
Hunting by the rivers
Through the streets
Every corner abandoned too soon
Set down with due care”
Blessed are the hurt. The truly wrecked. Sad canines of the dark.
“Don’t walk away in silence
Don’t walk away”
What can be more sad? What can touch the soul closer than this? Like flesh cuts to the knees. Hot summer grass stains. Like your first bloody nose. The horrid shock of losing someone you love. That laughing bitter chill of not finding your dream. Losing. The realization that you are dead. Torn apart. Forgotten. Lost. Fucking lost in a world you will never (and I mean never) understand. This existence is a luscious hell. Your friends are gone. Your loved ones left. You are naked and alone. The turntable turns (that’s what they do). The rope hangs (that’s what they’re for). Your poetry is meaningless, scrawled in wicked ink on the red walls of your room. No one will ever read it. No one knows you’re here or who you are. No one understands. No one cares until you’re gone.
“I feel it closing in
I feel it closing in
Day in, day out
Day in, day out”
No one worked as hard as Ian Curtis: full-time job. Full-time band. Full-time wife and baby. He still managed to practice his music every evening. Managed to write. Drove to gigs late at night, then drove back home and to work the next day without sleep. This despite epilepsy. He knew what he wanted. Could taste it like metal before a fit. Knew where he wanted to go. Who he wanted to be. He took the darkness with him. Made a secret pact with it. Made love to it. Danced fiercely with the mad transmission of it. Muse frenzy. Dionysus rush. The flaming core that makes it all worth while. Just look at his eyes. Eyes that have seen the burning secret there within. There in the dark.
“But if you could see the beauty
These things I could never describe
These pleasures a wayward distraction
This is my one lucky prize”
This isn’t the first Joy Division album, but it’s the essential one. It was hand-picked by Tony Wilson and Factory Records. Everything of substance is here from the first rising of the band Warsaw and early songs on the first Factory Sample, to the quintessential pieces of the later albums Unknown Pleasures and Closer. This is the one I throw on whenever I’m down. Whenever I’m beaten. Whenever I’m sad and there’s no where else to go. This is what moves me. What helps me stay alive. I can still remember listening to Love Will Tear Us Apart for the first time. Over and over. Years later I never knew just how much this song would save me. It was a hymn of joy. A thing of beauty. It kept my feet from sinking down into the darkness. Down into the hell. It was all in Ian’s eyes. The way he moved the way he shook. It was Hooky’s base line. It was the whole bloody world dancing and moving and feeling good for once (and for once only), feeling good above the pain. The defeat. The sadness of it all. It taught you not to be afraid of melancholy. Of death. Darkness was not all that bad. It made you appreciate the light. It made you love harder. Live better. It ripped your fucking world apart. I’m still foaming at the mouth.
“You cry out in your sleep
All my failings exposed
And 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
Love, love will tear us apart again
Love, love will tear us apart again”
-from “Love Will Tear Us Apart”