My first experience with the band Joy Division was around half a decade ago when my sister had recommended the movie ‘Control’ to me. I do not know how she heard of the movie but her recommendations were usually good. At the time, I was at University in England and like any student, always looking out for interesting movies to watch. I knew nothing about the movie before I watched it except that it was directed by Anton Corbijn, a photographer whose work I was familiar with. Anton had spent a lot of time photographing the band U2 and me being a fan of U2 as well as photography, it was only natural that I knew about him. His work was very poignant and I was naturally eager to watch his work with motion pictures. A quick look at the trailer told me that the entire movie was in black and white which further stirred my curiosity.
‘Control’ is a hauntingly beautiful black and white movie. It shows us the price of fame and how much effect a single decision can have on our lives. The movie shocked me and enamored me, both visually and psychologically. The story was brilliant, the music was even better, every single frame was stunning. The performances were heart wrenching, the whole combination emanated pure art. And thus began my first tryst with the band Joy Division.
I slowly started listening to their well known songs and was hooked on to them for some time but lost interest after the novelty wore off. However I had not completely forgotten about their music and perhaps by coincidence I was reintroduced to their songs when I overheard a friend listening to them. It had been a year or so since I had last heard a Joy Division but when I heard the haunting sounds of ‘Atmosphere’ emanating from my friend’s bedroom door, I had a strong feeling of deja vu. My heart told me that it was Joy Divison but my mind was a bit confused and I ended up asking my friend who the band was. He turned back and grinned ‘Don’t you know Joy Division? Come on Kishor!’.
That led to my second wave of obsession with the band i.e a lot of sessions listening to their albums while reading articles about them, checking out Youtube videos of their live performances, browsing fan websites or watching ‘Control’ again. It was at this juncture that my fascination with the band grew beyond their music as I became familiar with their past. Their story was hardly a life of roses and good wine, it was a story of heartbreak, failure and a bit of success too. And perhaps the rawness of their story was a part of the reason I fell in love with them.
I share my birthday with the lead singer of the band, Ian Curtis. He killed himself when he was my age in 1980. He left behind a wife, a baby daughter and thousands of saddened fans. His life was tragic, depressing and inspiring at the same time. Their music took on a bigger meaning to me and I found myself listening to their songs again and again. I watched another movie about them, ’24 Hour Party People’ and read more about the life of the band. I started to relate to the songs, the thoughts behind them and what Ian may have felt when he wrote them.
After Ian’s death, the band stuck together and called themselves New Order and became largely successful in their own right, perhaps the only instance when a band survived the death of their lead singer. I have grown to become a fan of New Order too and their music (and story) had captured my heart too.
If you already haven’t listened to their music, you should do so now. You can listen to their albums on Grooveshark for free. It is haunting, depressing but also strangely comforting. And if you like their music, you must definitely watch ‘Control’. You can watch the trailer here. Maybe one day, I hope to create a piece of art so beautiful as the movie.
Currently listening to – Atmosphere by Joy Division