Monday, May 18, 2020

Remembering Ian Curtis

Joy Division : Twenty Four Hours

On May 18, 1980 Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis took his own life at the age of 23, leaving behind a wife, a child and a musical legacy that has only grown over time. Curtis had been suffering from depression and epilepsy.

This post is hardly the only remembrance of this sad day. Peter Hook is marking the anniversary by streaming a 2015 gig in which he played every Joy Division song with his band The Light. The show will debut online across both Joy Division’s and The Light’s Youtube and Facebook channels. Although it will be free, fans are asked to make a donation to The Epilepsy Society.

Hook’s fellow surviving Joy Division bandmates Bernard Sumner and Stephen Morris will also be hosting an event to celebrate Curtis. The  free online event, ‘Moving Through the Silence: Celebrating The Life and Legacy of Ian Curtis’, will raise money for the Manchester mental health charity Manchester Mind and help mark the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week.

As Hook relates in his memoir Unknown Pleasures, Joy Division was getting ready to tour America, home to Curtis' favorite bands The Doors, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. (Pop's The Idiot is apparently the last album Curtis ever heard.)

So, yes, I drove him home that Friday night and he was cock-a-hoop, full of it. We’d had a great practice and I was dropping him off. We were laughing and joking and every now and then one of us would go, ‘I can’t believe we’re fucking going to America!’ We were screaming in the car, jumping up and down on the seats, properly shouting, whooping, hollering: ‘Yeah! America!’
No ‘rather die’ about it.
This was on the Friday night. We were due to leave after the weekend. If the silly bugger hadn’t killed himself we would have been on a plane to America on Monday. If he’d known all along that he planned to kill himself, as some say he did, was he just putting it on, all that excitement? Was he that good an actor?

A last second addition to a Smash Hits issue in May of 1980

As it has been pointed out many times, the lyrics of the forthcoming album, Closer, read like suicide notes to bandmates.  In "Twenty-Four Hours", Curtis sings

Just for one moment, thought I'd found my way. 
Destiny unfolded, I watched it slip away.

Looked beyond the day in hand, there's nothing there at all. 
Now that I've realized how it's all gone wrong, 
Gottas find some therapy, this treatment takes too long. 
Deep in the heart of where sympathy held sway, 
Gotta find my destiny, before it gets too late.


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