love is tearing 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.

The first task Austin Kleon sets in The Steal Like An Artist Journal is to jot down ten things you want to learn. I still need to think of a couple more, so I’ll share the full list when I can think of them, but the first thing I scribbled without hesitation was ‘to learn more about legendary musicians and bands I find interesting’ – why they gained such status, what they meant in the context of their time, and their inspiration for the music they made. I love the idea of tracing back the roots. It’s like time travel for creative inspiration.

When writing about trauma, one of the examples I’d found where an artist had put their’s out for the world to see was Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart. It’s one of those bands, a long list of them, that I’ve heard of through legend but couldn’t attach a song title to. Now I have one, and I’ve fallen in love with it.

Initially, its leading line reminded me of Alex Clare‘s

And it feels like I am just too close to love you.

& I mean that in its positioning of love in an unusual position, one which destroys us. In my mind, this is something of Greek epics or stories far more dramatic than my own, but then you take some time to think about it and the average person does have: obsession, wanting to let go of someone for your own health but being too connected to them, dating someone with someone else in mind.

When I saw Joy Division’s song above listed, I hopped over to Wikipedia:

His lyrics ostensibly reflect the problems in his marriage to Deborah Curtis, as well as his general frame of mind in the time leading up to his suicide in May 1980.

Wow. That background song I vaguely recognised was actually a dull comment on a failing relationship, one which lead to that writer’s decision to hang himself. It’s amazing how much depth you get when you take a moment to look a little closer. Sean O’Hagan wrote about his experience of seeing them live:

The only time I saw Joy Division, Ian Curtis collapsed on stage during the fifth song and the set ended abruptly amid confusion and conjecture. The venue was the Moonlight Club in north London; the date 4 April 1980, the final night of an Easter weekend showcase for Manchester’s Factory Records. In the previous few years, after punk had galvanised a moribund live music scene, I had seen my share of raw and confrontational gigs, but this was something else. It was as if the small audience had witnessed something almost too real, a music so dark and visceral, so bottomless in its sense of despair, that it seemed to have literally debilitated its main creator … Joy Division played only five more gigs. In the early hours of 18 May, Ian Curtis hanged himself, brought low by guilt, illness and acute depression.

The lyrics spoke to me. I have been in obsessive love (arguably lust) before. My family and I have a troubling relationship that, in an ideal world, I’d cut from my life – but there’s a raw, ancient love there that I can’t sever. & I’ve dated in the past, struggling because someone else is in the periphery of my mind. Love is wonderful, and it’s a reason for living, but goodness it can tear us apart, too.

I’ll be taking Joy Division as my first little research project for musicians.

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