Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart

Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart

‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ is a song by English rock band Joy Division, released in June 1980 as a non-album single. Its lyrics were inspired by lead singer Ian Curtis's marital problems and struggles with epilepsy. The single was released the month after his suicide. The song was certified double platinum in the UK, selling and streaming over 1,200,000 units, and has an ongoing legacy as a defining song of the era. In 2002, NME named ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ as the greatest single of all time, while Rolling Stone named it one of the 500 greatest songs ever in 2004, 2010, and 2021.

‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ was written about Ian Curtis' troubled relationship with his wife, Deborah Woodruff, whom he married in August 1975. Additionally, it deals with his own struggles with epilepsy, which he was diagnosed with in 1979, and the overwhelming stress of holding down a day job and his growing career as a singer. At a Joy Division gig in October 1979, Curtis met Belgian journalist and music promoter Annik Honoré and the two began a relationship, which caused further distress between Curtis and Woodruff.

Joy Division

Speaking about her relationship with Curtis in a 2010 interview with Belgian magazine supplement Focus, Honoré said: “It was a completely pure and platonic relationship, very childish, very chaste… I did not have a sexual relationship with Ian. He was on medication, which rendered it a nonphysical relationship. I am so fed up that people question my word or his. People can say whatever they want, but I am the only person to have his letters… One of his letters says that the relationship with his wife Deborah had already finished prior to us meeting each other.” The title to the song can read like an ironic response to "Love Will Keep Us Together", a song whose version by Captain & Tennille was a hit in 1975. According to record producer Warren Huart, its intro was influenced directly by the Neu! song "Hero".

‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ became Joy Division's first chart hit, reaching number 13 in the UK Singles Chart. The following month, the single topped the UK Indie Chart. The song also peaked at number 42 on the Billboard disco chart in October 1980. ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ also reached number 1 in New Zealand in June 1981. The single was re-released in 1983 and reached number 19 on the UK charts and number 3 in New Zealand during March 1984. In 1985, the 7" single was released in Poland by Tonpress in different sleeve under licence from Factory and sold over 20,000 copies. In November 1988, it made one more Top 40 appearance in New Zealand, peaking at number 39.

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Label – Factory
Songwriters – Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris, Bernard Sumner
Producers – Martin Hannett, Joy Division


[Verse 1]
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
[Verse 2]
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
But love, love will tear us apart again
Love, love will tear us apart again
[Instrumental Break]
[Verse 3]
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
Then love, love will tear us apart again
Love, love will tear us apart again
Then love, love will tear it apart again
Love, love will tear it apart again
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