Released mere months before he died by suicide, Ian Curtis’ lyrics ostensibly reflect his troubled marriage with wife Deborah Woodruff. While touring with Joy Division in 1979, he met Belgian journalist and music promoter Annik Honoré and the two began a close but chaste relationship. This further distressed his marriage and perhaps weighed heavily on him at the time as he purportedly fell in love with her.
“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”
The song’s title was written as an ironic counter to the Captain & Tennille chart-topper ‘Love Will Keep Us Together‘. Curtis’ distinctive emotive croon said to have been influenced by Factory Records boss Tony Wilson lending him a set of Frank Sinatra albums prior to the recording sessions. NME would name the song ‘Single of the Year’ in 1980 and list it as the best single of all time later in 2002.
It’s not a love song for the sake of it, it’s no vacuous paean to pretend heartbreak or anything like that. It’s genuine, it’s real and it swings back and forth between full-blown power and reflective introspection. I think it’s one of the most beautiful love songs ever written.~ Bernard Sumner, ‘Chapter And Verse‘
“Why is the bedroom so cold? You’ve turned away on your side,
Is my timing that flawed? Our respect runs so dry,
Yet there’s still this appeal that we’ve kept through our lives”
Due to poor production, the video’s color has ‘browned out’ imperfections, but it would sadly end up the only promotional video the band ever produced — Ian Curtis would hang himself three weeks after the video was recorded. His body was cremated and laid to rest in Macclesfield Cemetery, a Victorian graveyard located in Cheshire, England, where his wife Deborah had the song’s title inscribed on his memorial stone.
“You cry out in your sleep, all my failings exposed,
There’s a taste in my mouth as desperation takes hold,
Just that something so good, just can’t function no more“