No Control

I just called my local video store asking if they had Control in stock. They simply replied, "No Control". Gee ...

Ian Curtis, singer and lyricist of Joy Division died 28 years ago, today. But you already knew that. One day before the start of their first American tour, one day after unsuccessfully asking his estranged wife to drop the divorce, in the early hours of Sunday, 18 May 1980, in his kitchen after having stayed up all night having viewed Werner Herzog's film Stroszek and listening to Iggy Pop's The Idiot, Curtis hanged himself. But you probably already knew that too.

Growing up in a city such as Manchester, physically and spiritually scarred by the violent nineteenth century transition between rural folkways and the unnatural rhythms of industrial life, Joy Division grappled with both the problems and possibilities of human existence in an increasingly technological world. The traumatized urban landscape serves not only as a backdrop but also, in a sense, the main character: waxing magic and poetry one feels when looking at a junkyard filled with old washing machines, or wrecked cars, or old ships rotting in some disused harbor. Joy Division made music poised on the membrane between the local and universal, between the specifics of a period and place and timeless human fears and longings.

Mark E. Smith once suggested that there were two kinds of factory in Manchester; the kind that make dead men, and the kind that live off a dead man. Unfair but true -- Curtis's death sealed Factory's stature forever.

A failing marriage, adultery, and illness. "Possessed," is how the normally dry and sardonic producer Martin Hannett described Curtis in an interview with Jon Savage. "It was me who said 'touched by the hand of God,' to a Dutch magazine. He was one of those channels for the gestalt, the only one I bumped into in that period. A lightening conductor." But you don't need to wax mystical to see Curtis as a seerlike figure, someone whose private pain somehow worked as a prism for the wider culture, refracting the malaise and anguish of Britain in the late seventies.

P.S. Words taken/stolen/plagiarized con safos from Rip It Up and Start Again author, Simon Reynolds

P.P.S. Brian Eno turned sixty yesterday.

P.P.P.S. Grace Jones turns sixty tomorrow.

Warsaw - Transmission
Joy Division - Disorder
Joy Division - Decades

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