Joy Division


Tonight Johnnypeepers returns to the warm loving embrace of tunesville. This latest installment brings you a band that experienced a brief and tragic run, yet left an indelible mark on the post-punk landscape. I speak of none other than the ominous Manchester sonic warriors known as Joy Division (named after the Jewish females used to satisfy Nazi soldiers in Yehiel De-Nur’s book The House of Dolls).

Their run ended early, punctuated by the suicide of their 23 year-old singer Ian Curtis. The married Ian had sparked up a romance with a Belgian broad, and the combined pressures of marital dischord, mental illness, epilepsy, and other unknown factors, contributed to his early demise. At times, Curtis would go into epileptic fits ending concert performances. The surviving members forged together to start the band New Order.

Joy Division represented imminent danger, darkness, and depressive isolation. Curtis’s use of Nazi imagery, bleak post-war English bleariness, and William Burrough’ s narcotic-induced landscapes set these cats apart from their musical peers. Sometimes it is best to be in a bitter and angry mood to listen to Joy Division properly. I do not recommend this band to strident 2nd Amendment activists and NRA members because you might want to discharge the gats on yourself.

My favorite Joy Division song has to be Shadowplay. The brooding lyrics are subdued (and overshadowed) by the haunting lead guitar work. I always get chills up my spine when I hear the guitar enter at the 1:01 mark. Curtis’s spasmodic Devo-like gyrations that immediately follow in the video only add to the bizarre spectacle.

When I listen to Shadowplay, I think of a dank cold alleyway in East Berlin where imposing dark figures are moving in on my crouched position, with bad things sure to follow. I picture myself in a window-less room knowing that jack-booted menacing figures are about to pump me full of Broomhandle Mauser slugs. In the song, the protagonist has vacated his duty to someone we do not know.

Considering the fact that this song came out in 1979, the following video is ahead of its time production-wise. Drop your musical biases and habitual ear tunings and check these blokes out, you will not regret it.

To the centre of the city where all roads meet, waiting for you,
To the depths of the ocean where all hopes sank, searching for you,
I was moving through the silence without motion, waiting for you,
In a room without window in the corner I found truth.

In the shadowplay, acting out your own death, knowing no more,
As the assassins all grouped in four lines, dancing on the floor,
And with cold steel, odour on their bodies made a move to connect,
But I could only stare in disbelief as the crowds all left.

I did everything, everything I wanted to,
I let them use you for their own ends,
To the centre of the city in the night, waiting for you.
To the centre of the city in the night, waiting for you.

4 Responses to “Joy Division”

  1. January 15, 2008 at 8:52 am

    I love Joy Division. One of my fave bands ever. As I’ve gotten older, however, I find it harder and harder to listen to them because the sadness of Ian Curtis’ death just overwhelms me. Thanks for the video. It was good to hear them again.

    Johnnypeeper’s response:

    Anytime sistah, JP is always here to please. I am glad there are peeps out there like you who dig Joy Division and make positive contributions to Dillsnap Cogitations.

  2. January 15, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    Ah, Unknown Pleasure… Such a fantastic album. Absolute;y timeless.

    I have to say that Shadowplay is probably my second favorite song of theirs, the top spot being taken by New Dawn Fades…

    Of course, their songs are all great… Ah, the memories. Good times, bad times and definitely worse times…

  3. January 21, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    I have always liked Joy Division and New Order. Have you heard the new “Mad World” recorded for the Donnie Darko soundtrack? Just hauntingly beautiful.

  4. February 7, 2008 at 11:08 am

    Hell Yes. One of the best bands ever. It makes me sad that the movie about Ian looks as if it might suck.

    This post has inspired me to youtube their live stuff all day. starting with “new dawn fades”….ahhhhh

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Johnny Peepers

----> is a socio-pathetic degenerate with a penchant for cheap booze, ruphy-laden broads, and dim sum soup.


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