Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Greatest Song of All Time?

"Love Will Tear Us Apart" is a song by the British post-punk band Joy Division. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" was written in August and September of 1979 and was debuted when the band supported Buzzcocks on their UK tour in September and October 1979, and it is one of the few songs in which singer Ian Curtis played guitar (albeit somewhat minimally).

The lyrics are perceived to reflect the problems in Ian Curtis' marriage to Deborah Curtis, as well as his general frame of mind in the time leading up to his suicide in May 1980. Deborah Curtis had the phrase "Love Will Tear Us Apart" inscribed on Ian Curtis' memorial stone.

The song was first released in April 1980 and, after Curtis' suicide that May, became the band's first chart hit, reaching number 13 in the UK. The band broke up after his death and reformed as New Order. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" was re-released in 1983 and reached number 19 on the UK charts.

In November 1988, it made one more Top 40 appearance in New Zealand, peaking at #39. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" appears on the 'Substance' compilation album. It was first recorded for a John Peel session in November 1979, then re-recorded in January 1980 and March 1980. It is the latter version that appears on 'Substance'. The song was listed by Rolling Stone magazine at number 179 in its top 500 songs of all time.

My introduction to "Love Will Tear Us Apart" was actually through the Girl Skateboards "Yeah Right!" video in the summer of 2004. Marc Johnson used the Squarepusher cover version of the song for his section. As I sat in a basement in Bloomington, IN I was floored. Where had this song been all of my 24 years?! I proceeded to watch that specific part of the video three more times, I simply could not detach myself from the song.

My next move was straight to the computer. I looked up "Love Will Tear Us Apart" and expected to begin my tedious search for what I assumed was a rare song. I soon discovered that this song, was not rare...it was about as popular as bottled water. It was everywhere. The mystery of how I did not know of this song prior to that day grew even deeper. Nonetheless, I had a new favorite song for that time in my life.

For the next month, I spent my days wandering the city of Bloomington looking for answers on where to go in life. I was scheduled to move to southern California but it did not look promising. I had no money but I had the most important thing of all: friends who cared about me. When you're broke and hungry, you know it. This was the reality I awoke to everyday for two weeks. All I knew is that I had to make it through the day... and then worry about the next. I barely had enough money to eat, but I was somehow intoxicated every nite. Three songs carried me through those tough times: Allman Brothers "Melissa", Nas "Life is a Bitch" and...Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart".

Despite the fact that the lyrics themselves had nothing to do with my life situation at the time, I related with them on a level that transcended my lack of money and food. Ian Curtis was only a year younger than me when he wrote the painfully genius lyrics to what would become his greatest success. Curtis, who married at 19 and had a child at 23, was crushed under the weight of depression, the success of his band, epileptic seizures and infidelity. In the early hours of May 18th, 1980, Curtis hanged himself in the kitchen of his house in Macclesfield, England. Sadly, Ian Curtis left a young wife and daughter on that morning, but one great thing he did do was to leave the world what I consider to to be the greatest song of all time in "Love Will Tear Us Apart".

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.

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

Do you cry out in your sleep?
All my failings exposed... gets a taste in my mouth
As desperation takes hold.
Why is it something so good?
Just can't function no more?

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 up apart again.

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