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Joy Division – Heart and Soul (Part 2 of 2)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Walk in silence

Don’t walk away, in silence

See the danger

Always danger

Endless talking

Life rebuilding

Don’t walk away

“Atmosphere”

Joy Division, 1979

I come here to write part two, very tired. It’s almost hard to bring myself to write about Joy Division again, mainly because it is such a heavy story. There’s no way to make light of it. I feel like I touched on all the main points in part one about the band itself. So in this part, I think I will just talk my favorite songs.

Joy Division are unparalleled in creating an atmosphere. The song of the same title, quoted at the top, is one of my favorites by them. It stands out to me, because it is composed in a major key – offering what seems to be the only glimmer of hope in all of Curtis’s lyrics. But, after listening to it, I don’t know if there is any hope at all in it. It’s like two spirits are speaking through it – one of depression, the other of mania.

From Closer, my favorites are probably in the latter half of the album: “Heart and Soul,” “Twenty four hours,” “The eternal,” and “Decades.”

“Heart and Soul” has one of the most killer basslines of any song I’ve ever heard, and if anything, sharpens the intensity and introspection that is the Closer album. The lyrics, especially the second verse, is like being doused in cold water, over and over.

“An abyss that laughs at creation

a circus complete with all fools

Foundations that lasted the ages

Then ripped apart at their roots

Beyond all this good is the terror

The grip of a mercenary hand

When savagery turns all good reason

There’s no turning back, no last stand

Heart and soul, one will burn.”

“Heart and Soul”

If “Heart and Soul” is the cold abyss, then “Twenty four hours” is the fire. In no other song are Joy Division more frenzied, desperate, and shattering than this one. It is interspersed with valleys and exploding mountains of sound, and the constant riffage or the guitar and bass dig at you.

“So this is permanence, love’s shattered pride

What once was innocence, turned on its side

A cloud hangs over me, marks every move

Deep in the memory, of what once was love”

“Twenty four hours”

Closer (1980)

For a while, the following song on the album, “The eternal,” was my favorite Joy Division song. The piano riffing is like something out of a horror film – only the horror isn’t the physical, but the emotional in spirit – a horror on the inside that can never be outrun. This song is the epitome of disconnect – like you are a spirit standing outside your body, watching it die as falling leaves bury it. Wow – that was very dark. Very, very dark. I’m almost embarrassed. Ahem. Anyway, shall we move on?

“No words could explain, no actions determine

Just watching the trees and the leaves as they fall”

“The eternal”

I won’t talk about “Decades”, the final song of Closer, other than that it is a very good song that took a while to grow on me, and that you should listen to it.

“We knocked on the door of Hell’s darker chamber

Pushed to the limit, we dragged ourselves in

Watched from the wings as the scenes were replaying

We saw ourselves now as we never had seen

Portrayal of the trauma and degeneration

The sorrows we suffered and never were free

Where have they been?

Where have they been?

Where have they been?

Where have they been?”

“Decades”

I could go on. As I touched on in part one, Joy Division is a band I will probably listen to for a long time – perhaps even the rest of my life (though most likely in seasons, and not constantly – I don’t think I could handle that). Songs such as “Disorder”, “Day of the Lords”, “Insight”, “New Dawn Fades”, “She’s Lost Control”, “Isolation”, and “Ceremony” will always live with me. I don’t know what it is about this band, about this era, that speaks to me so much. I feel like Ian is a guy who understood a lot – perhaps too much, and it got the better of him. It was like he was collecting weights all his life, and he bore them with a patient smile – until one day, the weights were too much. It’s very sad – unlike other music-related suicides (Kurt Cobain comes to mind), this one seems more tragic and I can’t place my finger on why. All the same, thank you, Ian, thank you, Joy Division, for the great music that will live on through the ages and inspire listeners and musicians alike to great things.

A last thing – getting the Heart and Soul boxed set is definitely worth it. Disc four is really, really interesting to check out in particular. Joy Division, at least to me, were a completely different group live than in the studio. They are more punk, and Ian’s intensity grabs you by the shoulder and shakes you. Even songs I wasn’t to keen on in the studio version are something else entirely in their live versions.

And now, for probably my favorite cover of all time. Because I just had to bring Radiohead into this.

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