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"Love Will Tear Us Apart"
File:Love Will Tear Us Apart song.jpg
7-inch vinyl single
Song by Joy Division
B-side"These Days"
ReleasedJune 1980 (1980-06)[1]
RecordedMarch 1980, Strawberry Studios, Stockport, England, United Kingdom[2]
  • Ian Curtis
  • Peter Hook
  • Stephen Morris
  • Bernard Sumner
  • Martin Hannett
  • Joy Division
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Alternative cover
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"Love Will Tear Us Apart"
Song by Joy Division
B-side"She's Lost Control"

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"Love Will Tear Us Apart (Permanent Mix)"
Song by Joy Division
from the album Permanent
Released1995 (1995)
LabelLondon Records

"Love Will Tear Us Apart" is a song by English post-punk band Joy Division. It was written in August 1979, and debuted when the band supported Buzzcocks on their UK tour in September to November 1979. It is one of the few songs in which singer Ian Curtis played guitar (albeit somewhat minimally) on live versions. The lyrics ostensibly reflect the problems in his marriage to Deborah Curtis, as well as his general frame of mind in the time leading up to his suicide in May 1980.[5] The title is an ironic reference to "Love Will Keep Us Together". Deborah had the phrase "Love Will Tear Us Apart" inscribed on Ian's memorial stone.

The song was first released as a single in June 1980 and became the band's first chart hit, reaching number 13 in the UK Singles Chart.[6] That October, "Love Will Tear Us Apart" peaked at number 42 on the American disco/dance chart.[7] It also reached number 1 in New Zealand in June 1981.[8] The band postponed their US tour after Curtis's death, performed a few short sets as The No-Names, then finally renamed the group as New Order. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" was re-released in 1983 and reached number 19 on the UK charts[6] and re-appeared at number 3 in New Zealand during March 1984.[8] In 1985, the 7" single was released in Poland by Tonpress in different sleeve under license from Factory and sold over 20,000 copies.[9] In November 1988, it made one more Top 40 appearance in New Zealand, peaking at number 39.[8] "Love Will Tear Us Apart" appears on the Substance compilation album. It was first recorded for a John Peel session in November 1979, then re-recorded in January 1980 and March 1980. It is the latter version that appears on Substance. The January 1980 version originally appeared as one of the single's B-sides.

In 1995, to publicise the release of Permanent, the track was reissued, complete with a new remix by Arthur Baker and a new radio edit, also known as the "Permanent Mix". On 24 September 2007, the single was again reissued, in its original configuration. This time, it was to publicise the Collector's Edition re-issues of the band's three albums. Although the single was now issued on the Warner label, it retained the classic Factory packaging, including the FAC 23 catalogue number.


Pennine and Strawberry studio versions[]

The song was originally recorded at Pennine Studios, Oldham on 8 January 1980 along with the B-side, "These Days". This version was similar to the version the band played live. Ian Curtis and Martin Hannett, however, disliked the version and, as a consequence, the band reconvened at Strawberry Studios, Stockport in March to re-record it.[2] Whilst Curtis played guitar on the song live – the band taught him D major specially – the guitar on the recording was a 12-string Eko guitar played by Sumner.[10] Sumner recalls:

Ian didn't really want to play guitar, but for some reason we wanted him to play it. I can't remember the reason now ... I think Ian used to play only on "Love Will Tear Us Apart" ... no I'm wrong, there was another track too. Maybe "Heart and Soul"? I do remember Ian used to play just one chord, which was D. We showed him how to play D and we wrote a song. I wonder if that's why we wrote "Love Will Tear Us Apart", you could drone a D through it. I think he played it live because I was playing keyboards. On the record I played guitar, a twelve string Eko guitar, an Italian guitar that actually sounded pretty good.[10]

Stephen Morris disliked the re-recorded version:

The version that everyone knows, I actually hate ... Martin Hannett played one of his mind games when we were recording it – it sounds like he was a tyrant, but he wasn't, he was nice. We had this one battle where it was nearly midnight and I said, "Is it all right if I go home, Martin – it's been a long day?" And he said [whispers], "OK ... you go home". So I went back to the flat. Just got to sleep and the phone rings. "Martin wants you to come back and do the snare drum". At four in the morning! I said, "What's wrong with the snare drum!?" So every time I hear "Love Will Tear Us Apart", I grit my teeth and remember myself shouting down the phone, "YOU BASTARD!" [smashes up imaginary phone]. I can feel the anger in it even now. It's a great song and it's a great production, but I do get anguished every time I hear it.[11]

While Joy Division were recording "Love Will Tear Us Apart", U2 were in the studio to see Martin Hannett about producing their first album, Boy. Lead singer Bono said of the encounter:

Talking to Ian Curtis is ... or was a strange experience because he's very warm ... he talked—it was like two people inside of him—he talked very light, and he talked very well-mannered, and very polite. But when he got behind the microphone he really surged forth; there was another energy. It seemed like he was just two people and, you know, "Love Will Tear Us Apart", it was like [when] that record was released ... it was like, as if, there were the personalities, separate; there they were, torn apart.[12]

Bono has since often sung snippets of the song during live performances, often during extended versions of "With or Without You".

Music video[]

The video was shot by the band themselves on 28 April 1980 as they rehearsed the song at T.J. Davidson's studio, where the band had previously rehearsed during the early days of their career. At the start of the video, the door that opens and shuts is carved with Ian Curtis' name; reportedly this was the beginning of an abusive message (the rest later erased) carved into the door.

Due to poor production, the video's colour is 'browned out' at some points. Also, as the track recorded during the recording of the video was poor, it was replaced with the single-edit recording of the song by the band's record company in Australia, leading to problems with the synchronisation of music and video. This edited version of the music video would later become the official version due to the improvement of sound quality.

This was the only promotional video the band ever produced as Ian Curtis committed suicide less than three weeks after the video was recorded.[13]


File:Ian Curtis post-2008 memorial stone at Macclesfield Cemetery.jpg

Ian Curtis's grave marker, laid in 2008 to replace a similarly inscribed one stolen that year

"Love Will Tear Us Apart" has remained popular and was listed by NME as the best single of all time in 2002. In 2004, the song was listed by Rolling Stone magazine at number 179 in its list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time".[14] In 2011, it was listed at number 181.[15] In May 2007, NME placed it at number 19 in its list of the 50 Greatest Indie Anthems Ever, one place ahead of another Joy Division song, "Transmission". The song reached number 1 in the inaugural Triple J Hottest 100 music poll of 1989 and again in 1990. When being interviewed for New Order Story, Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys stated that "Love Will Tear Us Apart" was his favourite pop song of all time. At Christmas 2011, listeners of Dublin's Phantom FM voted "Love Will Tear Us Apart" as their favourite song of all time. Furthermore, in 2012, in celebration of the NME's 60th anniversary, a list of the 100 Greatest Songs of NME's Lifetime was compiled, and the list was topped by "Love Will Tear Us Apart". Serbian rock musician, journalist and writer Dejan Cukić wrote about "Love Will Tear Us Apart" as one of the 46 songs that changed history of popular music in his 2007 book 45 obrtaja: Priče o pesmama.

The song has also been used in numerous television programs and in films, such as the films Donnie Darko (2001),[16] Series 7: The Contenders (2001)[16] 24 Hour Party People (2002)[16] and Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006).[16]

In June 2013, Mighty Box Games released Will Love Tear Us Apart?, a browser-based video game that adapts every verse of the song into a level.[17]

Track listing[]

7" vinyl
Side A
1."Love Will Tear Us Apart"3:18
Side B
1."These Days"3:21
2."Love Will Tear Us Apart"3:06
1995 cassette edition
1."Love Will Tear Us Apart" (radio version)3:38
2."Love Will Tear Us Apart" (original version)3:25
1995 12" edition
1."Love Will Tear Us Apart" (original version)3:25
2."Love Will Tear Us Apart" (radio version)3:38
3."Love Will Tear Us Apart" (Arthur Baker remix)4:12
4."Atmosphere" (original Hannett 12")4:08
1995 CD 1 edition
1."Love Will Tear Us Apart" (radio version)3:38
2."Love Will Tear Us Apart" (original version)3:25
3."These Days"3:25
4."Transmission" (live)3:44
1995 CD 2 edition
1."Love Will Tear Us Apart" (original version)3:18
2."Love Will Tear Us Apart '95" (radio version)3:38
  • Track 1 recorded at Strawberry Studios, Stockport, early March 1980
  • Tracks 2 and 3 recorded at Pennine Sound Studios, Oldham, 8 January 1980
  • In her biography Touching from a Distance, Deborah Curtis explains that the reason for the two versions of the song, one on each side, was a result of Curtis's slightly different singing in each one; one vocal take was allegedly done when other band members told Curtis to sing "like Frank Sinatra".
  • Like other Joy Division releases, including Transmission and An Ideal For Living, the 7" and 12" versions share the same tracks, but have different sleeves.

Chart performance[]

Preceded by
"Morning Train (9 To 5)" by Sheena Easton
New Zealand number-one single
21 June 1981 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"Stars on 45" by Stars on 45

Cover versions[]

"Love Will Tear Us Apart" was first covered and recorded by Austrian new wave band Chuzpe in 1980–81[20] (GIG Records 111 103) and has since been covered by many artists, including Paul Young (1984),[21] José González (2004),[22] Fall Out Boy (2004),[23] Calexico (2005),[24] Nouvelle Vague (2004),[25] Squarepusher (2002),[26] Honeyroot (2005),[27] June Tabor with Oysterband (2012),[28] Absinthe,[29] the Mulhollands (2010)[30] and Susanna and the Magical Orchestra (2006).[31]

On 11 November 2009, the song was also performed in the opening scene of Season 5 Episode 7 of the CBS television series Criminal Minds, by the musician character Dante[32] (actual song sung by Gavin Rossdale).[33]

The chorus of "Love Will Tear Us Apart" features heavily on the last third of Sufjan Stevens's song "Christmas Unicorn" from volume 10 of his second Christmas-themed box set, Silver & Gold (2012).[34]

Soul Asylum also covered "Love Will Tear Us Apart" on their EP No Fun Intended, released on 16 July 2013.[35]


Swans version[]

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Love Will Tear Us Apart is an EP by the New York band Swans, its ninth release. It features a cover version of the Joy Division song. It was originally released in two different versions with Jarboe (black sleeve) and Gira (red sleeve) providing vocals, along with two semi-acoustic versions of songs from their 1987 LP Children of God. On some versions, a fourth song was appended: A solo acoustic version of "New Mind".[38]

EP track listing[]

Side A
1."Love Will Tear Us Apart"3:40
2."Trust Me"3:07
Side B
1."Our Love Lies"6:56


  • Michael Gira – guitar, vocals
  • Jarboe – keyboards, vocals, piano
  • Algis Kizys – bass guitar
  • Norman Westberg – guitar


Chart (1988) Peak
UK Indie Chart[39] 2

See also[]

  • Joy Division discography


  1. Curtis, Deborah (1995). Touching from a Distance: Ian Curtis and Joy Division. London: Faber and Faber. p. 138. ISBN 0-571-26515-4.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Joy Division studio sessions". Retrieved 2 June 2013.
  3. Friskics-Warren, Bill (2005). I'll Take You There: Pop Music and the Urge for Transcendence. Continuum. p. 98. ISBN 0-8264-1700-0. the cascading melody of Joy Division's sublimely gloomy post-punk anthem, 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'
  4. Floman, Scott. "Joy Division – Substance (Qwest '88)". Retrieved 23 October 2013. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" is simply a lovely synth pop song with affecting lyrics that linger in listener's memories long after the last note.
  5. "500 Must-Have Music Tracks". The Daily Telegraph. 1 February 2014. p. X8.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named UK
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Joy Division – Awards". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 22 June 2013.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 " – Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
  9. Buda, Andrzej (2006). Historia rocka, popu i hip-hopu – według krytyków: 1974 – 2000 (in Polish). Wydawn. Niezależne (Independent editors). ISBN 83-915272-8-X.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Graham, Pat (2011). Instrument. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. p. 40. ISBN 1-4521-0895-1.
  11. Gale, Lee (17 December 2010). "An Ideal for Reliving". GQ. New York City. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  12. "Bono on Joy Division, 1980, RTE radio, Ireland." on YouTube
  13. Hook, Peter (2012). Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division. London: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-06-222258-9.
  14. The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (1-500) at the Wayback Machine (archived 20 August 2006). Rolling Stone.
  15. "500 Greatest Songs of All Time > 181 – Joy Division, 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'". Rolling Stone. 7 April 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 "Joy Division – Soundtrack". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  17. Farokhmanesh, Megan (3 June 2013). "Will Love Tear Us Apart? transforms Joy Division song into a game". Polygon. Vox Media. Archived from the original on 4 June 2013. Retrieved 4 June 2013. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
  18. "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – CHART POSITIONS PRE 1989". Hung Medien. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  19. "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Love Will Tear Us Apart". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
  20. 20.0 20.1 " – Chuzpe – Love Will Tear Us Apart" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  21. 21.0 21.1 " – Paul Young – Love Will Tear Us Apart" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  22. Evans, Jonathan. "Cover Songs: Metaphor or Object of Study?" (PDF). Sapienza University of Rome. Retrieved 15 May 2016.
  23. Loftus, Johnny. "Fall Out Boy – My Heart Will Always Be the B-Side to My Tongue [EP]". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  24. Street, Andrew P. (18 September 2013). "Calexico – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  25. Louis (4 August 2007). "Critique de l'album Nouvelle Vague de Nouvelle Vague -" (in French). Albumrock. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  26. Bush, John. "Squarepusher – Do You Know Squarepusher". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  27. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named UK2
  28. "Love Will Tear Us Apart remix 7 vinyl STOP2012". Topic Records. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  29. "Absinthè – 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' Video & Gig Guide". LW Mag. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
  30. "iTunes - Music - Oh My! by The Mulhollands". iTunes Store. 30 June 2010. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  31. "Susanna med to låter på "Grey's Anatomy"" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  32. Criminal Minds 05X07 – Dante sings "Love Will Tear Us Apart". YouTube. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
  33. Gavin Rossdale Covering Love Will Tear Us Apart. YouTube. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
  34. "Christmas Unicorn from Silver & Gold by Sufjan Stevens". Asthmatic Kitty Records. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
  35. "Soul Asylum". Retrieved 27 March 2014.
  36. "Nederlandse Top 40 – Paul Young - Love Will Tear Us Apart" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  37. " – Paul Young – Love Will Tear Us Apart" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  38. Template:Discogs master. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  39. Lazell, Barry (1997) Indie Hits 1980–1989 at the Wayback Machine (archived 6 June 2011). Cherry Red Books.

External links[]

Template:Joy Division Template:Paul Young Template:Swans (band)