The Great Songs: Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart

by Eric Melin on May 19, 2010

in Columns,The Great Songs

The fact that Joy Division‘s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” charted five times in the U.K. and New Zealand between its release in 1980 and 1988 and has been re-issued three more times since speaks volumes to its enduring appeal.

joy division love will tear us apartThe legend of Joy Division is as follows: A Manchester band, they released their debut EP in 1978 and debut album, “Unknown Pleasures,” in 1979. Singer Ian Curtis’ marriage was falling apart, he battled depression, was diagnosed with epilepsy, and on the eve of Joy Division’s first American tour in May 1980, committed suicide. Huge cults have grown around he and the band ever since. The three surviving members went on to form New Order.

But let’s not discount the song just because of its massive goth/dance/emo influence. The song has a maudlin quality that’s way darker than most dance-oriented music while still having a catchy-as-hell chorus. It’s one of those tunes that’s almost uplifting and depressing at the same time.

As far as movies go, you may have heard it first in “Donnie Darko,” where it is prominently featured. The spotty 2007 film “Control” is a biopic of Curtis’ brief and troubled life, but if you want a lively, invigorating film about the Manchester scene that also features the song in some interesting context, rent Michael Winterbottom’s 2002 brilliant “24 Hour Party People,” one of the best movies of the last decade, hands down.

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Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers.com and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Troy May 19, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Great choice!!

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2 Troy May 19, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Great choice!!

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3 Troy May 19, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Great choice!!

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4 Will May 20, 2010 at 4:26 am

One of the greatest songs of all time, and my personal favorite love song.

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5 Will May 20, 2010 at 4:26 am

One of the greatest songs of all time, and my personal favorite love song.

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6 Will May 20, 2010 at 4:26 am

One of the greatest songs of all time, and my personal favorite love song.

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7 Eric Melin May 20, 2010 at 8:49 am

Nice…for lovers that like a healthy dose of fatalism!

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8 Eric Melin May 20, 2010 at 8:49 am

Nice…for lovers that like a healthy dose of fatalism!

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9 Eric Melin May 20, 2010 at 8:49 am

Nice…for lovers that like a healthy dose of fatalism!

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10 td September 5, 2010 at 3:05 am

A great song but “she’s lost control’ is even better – the greatest song ever recorded in the history of rock.

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11 Philip Elliott September 5, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Just saw this used in The Time Traveler’s Wife. Never thought about using it at my wedding. Maybe I should have.
Here is a interesting link http://blog.limewire.com/posts/24272-the-10-best-covers-of-love-will-tear-us-apart/
I think I have heard most. Actually it was Paul Young’s cover that solidified my attachment to Joy Division & New Order.

“‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ was eventually performed by New Order (though not for 18 years after Curtis’ suicide) and has been covered by many artists including, Nerina Pallot, Hawksley Workman, Calexico, The Cure, Swans, Unbroken, Nouvelle Vague, Heavens, Fall Out Boy, Worm is Green, José González, Red Mecca, Yat-Kha, Stanton Miranda, U2, Arcade Fire, Squarepusher, David Trust & The Weathermen, Honeyroot, Chris Edwards, Susanna and the Magical Orchestra, Moonspell, The Blood Divine, Simple Minds, Oysterband with June Tabor, Paul Young, Jamie Cullum, Nick Cave, Michelle Darkness feat. Hanna Pakarinen, Evelyn Evelyn and In the Nursery.” http://www.kspace.tv/music/classic-cover-joy-division-love-will-tear-us-apart/

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