Mystery of Ian Curtis

ian curtis

By: Tanya Soto

May 18th, 1980 was the day he decided to end his life. Besides his depression and epilepsy, lead singer of Joy Division Ian Curtis, left behind exquisite and deep music. Soul touching lyrics and peculiar performances gave glimpses of his personal problems. During his performances he’d wrap the the chord of the microphone around his neck and execute tantrum-like dance moves like Iggy Pop while still managing to sing. It wasn’t difficult to notice how unhappy this brilliant musician was.

The reasoning behind his suicide is not known. He had successful songs, albums, and a strong fanbase, however they didn’t seem to satisfy him. Ian soon got married to Deborah Curtis and had a daughter. Once having a child, people thought his dark perspective on life would change. “He always said he didn’t want to live. He wanted to be dead by the time he was twenty-five, and I said surely when you get to that age you won’t want to die. And he said, ‘Yes, sure I will,’” stated Ian’s wife Deborah Curtis in an interview. Perhaps, the achievement of Joy Division’s album “Unknown Pleasures” wasn’t adequate enough to change Ian’s ways; maybe it was the timing of the tour.

Ian struggled with anxiety regarding upcoming tour dates and his marriage with Deborah, which soon crumbled due to his unfaithfulness. “His essential subject was the human individual. Occasionally, some songs would sound frighteningly real. At times, it would sound harsh or cruel. It always felt to me that, that harshness and cruelty was directed towards himself,” stated Sean O’ Hagan, a music journalist, in an interview.

Through his lyrics, Ian mirrored what he felt. It was his dark perspective in life was that made his songs so real. “I remember one night when we were making calls. It was like 4 o’clock in the morning and I asked him about his lyric writing. He said it was amazing. ‘It was coming one after another. I know exactly where the end of the song is and normally I don’t do that. I just write and write. I feel as if I’m swirling down into a dark find and as I’m doing it, I’m throwing out pieces of paper with writing on them,’” stated former band member of Joy Division, Bernard Sumner. “I got the impression that he felt like some force was taking him somewhere,” Sumner added.

Songs like “She’s Lost Control,” “Transmission,” and “Atmosphere,” profoundly illustrates Ian’s perspective of life. Ian Curtis was a very depressed man, but as a musician his lyrics were strangely beautiful and perplexing. He turned his morbid thoughts into enchanting melodies that have impacted all listeners of Joy Division.

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