Monday, May 18, 2015

Where are they now? Ian Curtis

By +Ian C

Ian Curtis was the lead singer, lyricist and most emotionally tormented member of the influential late 70's rock band Joy Division, and now 35 years after his death, his story has become the stuff of legends.

Ian Curtis RIP

For a very short time between punk rock and synth pop, Joy Division were molding the future of music. There is very little that hasn't already been said about the music of Joy Division and the life and death of Ian Curtis. His story and it's many interpretations have been told and retold many times, and the truth is woven somewhere in between all of those versions. 

Whether Ian Curtis was or wasn't a genius is truly a subjective point, but he did exist somewhere on that line between genius and non-genius. He wrote from his own personal experiences and expressed them very eloquently, while the moody music reflected the dark subject matter. It was Martin Hannett's production that darkened the otherwise punky edge of Joy Division's music, giving it a more Gothic feel.

Yes, I am on the 4th paragraph and we haven't seen any jokes yet. No, you did not get magically transported away from STP, this is a serious post so that I can share with the world at large one of the inspirations of my life. I am not one of those people whose life was turned around by the music of Joy Division, but it did touch me on a deeper level than almost anything else I have listened to before or since.

Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures
Unknown Pleasures (1979)
Joy Division - Closer
Closer (1980)
For a band who only released two studio albums, the amount of influence they have exerted over music since is uniquely disproportionate. Many bands who have made it to the pinnacle of their profession cite Joy Division as an influence and an inspiration. Even Sir King Boss Bono, Emperor of all he surveys, has gone on record saying that Joy Division were the greatest band of a generation and that he would single-handedly fulfill Curtis' destiny for him.

Fellow Brit post-punkers, The Cure, were also strongly influenced by the Manchester foursome and have carried the Goth mantle for them since Joy Division split, which immediately followed the news of Ian's untimely death at only 23 years of age.

For 35 years, people have speculated as to how successful Joy Division would have become, with many 'experts' saying that Joy Division were on the cusp of becoming the next Beatles. Would Joy Division have surpassed the level that the phoenix from their ashes, New Order achieved? How would New Order sound with Curtis' desafinado baritone vocals? Would Joy Division have embraced New Order's electronic shift with Curtis still writing the songs? Feel free to share your opinions in the comments section below.

Joy Division - Heart and Soul Box Set

For those who think that the music of Joy Division is dark and depressing, I would suggest digging out some of the earlier pre-Hannett tracks or finding a couple of live performances. The doom and gloom wasn't always present but when it was there, it was enhanced and focused in the production. The Heart and Soul box set is one of the best ways to introduce a beginner to the entire Joy Division spectrum. It contains early punk driven songs, both studio albums, the standout songs from the compilation disc, Substance, and an assortment of live tracks.

The comment section is open for you to share your opinions and stories about Ian Curtis and Joy Division. Be honest, you won't offend me, and you are 35 years too late to offend Ian. I know many people who say that the band was overrated and only gained legendary status because the lead singer hanged himself.

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