Touching from a Distance: Ian Curtis and Joy Division
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The only in-depth biographical account of the lead singer of Joy Division, written by his widow.
Revered by his peers--Bono described his voice as "holy"--and idolized by his fans, musician Ian Curtis left behind a legacy rich in artistic genius. He was a mesmerizing performer on stage, yet also introverted and prone to mood swings. Enigmatic to the last, Ian Curtis died by his own hand on May 18, 1980.
Touching from a Distance describes Curtis's life from his early teenage years to his premature death on the eve of Joy Division's first American music tour. It tells how, with a wife, a child, and impending international fame, he was seduced by the glory of an early grave. What were the reasons for his fascination with death? Were his dark, brooding lyrics an artistic exorcism? In Touching from a Distance, Curtis's widow, Deborah, explains the drama of his life and the tragedy of his death.
Includes discography, gig list, and a full set of Curtis's lyrics, some of which appear in print for the first time.
money or for devilment, I don’t know, but we took our own drinks hidden inside our coats and didn’t buy a round all evening. I was sorry that Helen and. Oliver weren’t invited and got the impression Ian thought getting engaged was ‘uncool’. Ian lived his life by a conflicting code that changed depending on who was there at the time and what he could gain from it. Ian left his relatively secure job at Rare Records and hired a stall on Butter Lane antique market, round the corner from the record
peculiar atmosphere. When we walked through the door all eyes were upon us. It was obvious to the rest of the customers that we were not Oldham-born and the bar staff were reluctant to serve newcomers. Our existence had become boring and the fact that we both hated our jobs didn’t help. While Ian contented himself by continually ‘nipping out for sandwiches’, I became very depressed. Sometimes I was unable to stifle the tears on the long bus journey home. We had mistakenly saddled ourselves with a
with neither denial nor explanation. Enlisting the loyal help of those around him to cover his affair with a Belgian woman served to distance me further from events and ensured a total breakdown in communication. Ian’s stories about how bad our marriage was caused the rest of Joy Division to underestimate grossly the depth of our relationship. Also, maligning my character would have provided Ian with the means to justify his affair to himself and for a short time allay the guilt he would
However, I didn’t comprehend that the result would be something resembling a grave stone. His insistence on explaining all this at a time when he could hardly be bothered to look at me makes me think that he was already well ahead with his plans for his demise. I remember being amused by his assumption that I could possibly be interested in a band that I was no longer allowed to see or hear. Rob Gretton was stunned when I told him the wording I had chosen for the stone in the crematorium, but
soap box and said, ‘What’s wrong with Moss Side?’ While the poor man struggled to explain himself, Ian accused him of being racist, threw a punch at another guest and ended up crouching on the floor behind the settee. I remember kneeling down and trying to persuade him to come out, but he was as implacable as ever. Most probably it was Oliver Cleaver who eventually coaxed him into going home. In the summer of 1973, Oliver’s parents went away on holiday, leaving Oliver to stay at a friend’s