[dropcap]One[/dropcap] of the greatest, if not the greatest singles of all time, “Love Will Tear Us Apart” came out 35 Years ago today. The song was a result of Joy Division’s dark sense of humor (Excess of sorrow laughs, excess of joy…) that was a response to the Neil Sedaka song “Love Will Keep Us Together” made famous by Captain and Tennille as a hit single just 5 years prior.
The song’s lyrics, in retrospect, were an obvious reference to singer Ian Curtis’ failing marriage to his wife Deborah—and would later become the ill-fated singer’s epitaph upon his gravestone.
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.
Then love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.
Wikipedia claims that live—Love Will Tear Us Apart debuted on tour with The Buzzcocks, but curious enough, the song does not show up on live sets In the UK in September 1979, but instead appears to have debuted at the infamous Plan K show in Brussels on October 16th, 1979—with the show being promoted by Annik Honoré, Cabaret Voltaire performing, and William Burroughs in attendance.
After the Peel Session version performed on November 26th, 1979, the song was officially recorded at Pennine Studios, Oldham on January 8th 1980 along with the B side, “These Days”. This version had a very dance like feel, with Peter Hook’s Bass stronger, and brought more to the fore front, and with Ian Curtis’ vocals softer yet harmonizing more during the chorus. This version was similar to the version the band played live:
Ian Curtis and Martin Hannett, however, disliked the Pennine version of the song, so the band reconvened at Strawberry Studios, Stockport in March to re-record it with a more “Frank Sinatra” style vocal (according to Deborah Curtis in her book “Touching From a Distance”. This new version is the one we all know, and was later recut with promotional video that was initially recorded on April 28th, 1979, just 3 weeks prior to the tragic suicide of frontman Ian Curtis.
Included are heavyweight vinyl pressings of the band’s entire discography, which will be released on June 29th (Unknown Pleasures, Closer) and July 24th (Still, Substance). The Substance reissue will be spread over two LPs and tack a pair of bonus tracks (“As You Said,” the Pennine version of “Love Will Tear Us Apart”) onto the singles compilation that is Substance.