Saturday, January 06, 2007

Joy Division - "Wilderness"
from Unknown Pleasures (1979)

Unknown Pleasures

One cannot listen to Joy Division without getting some sense of the spiritual fight that was taking place in the life of Ian Curtis.

Rock critic Richard Byrne writes, "The reason for the long-lived importance of Joy Division can be found in Neil Morrow's prescient quote, linking the band with the dual forces of punk (spit) and a bleak, existential spirituality (the face of God)." In another place he discusses the nature of Curtis' lyrics, "The reason for the long-lived importance of Joy Division can be found in Neil Morrow's prescient quote, linking the band with the dual forces of punk (spit) and a bleak, existential spirituality (the face of God)." And one last quote worth looking at before we review the song at hand, "But deeper, beneath the extreme images and the bitter biography, there is something scarier in both (Sylvia) Plath and (Ian) Curtis' work the utter helplessness of humanity in the face of a universe in which a God oblivious to human suffering and doubt demands worship. The courage of Curtis' words to catalogue the suffering and confront is creator is precisely that 'spit in the face of God.'"

Lyric:
I travelled far and wide through many different times,
What did you see there?
I saw the saints with their toys,
What did you see there?
I saw all knowledge destroyed.
I travelled far and wide through many different times.
I travelled far and wide through prisons of the cross,
What did you see there?
The power and glory of sin,
What did you see there?
The blood of Christ on their skins,
I travelled far and wide thorugh many different times.
I travelled far and wide and unknown martyrs died,
What did you see there?
I saw the one sided trials,
What did you see there?
I saw the tears as they cried,
They had tears in their eyes,
Tears in their eyes,
Tears in their eyes,
Tears in their eye.

A dark poet was Ian Curtis. Singing of Nazi Atrocities and asking that hard question of God, "Why did you allow this to happen?"

Saints with their toys. (Nazi's with machine guns.)
Prisons of the cross. (Death camps.)
Christ on their skins. (The branded numbers tattooed in the skin of the holocaust victims.)
One sided trials. (For those who suffered, died and were buried in the concentration camps.)


Curtis seeks understanding, but fails to find it. In another song he sings, "God in his wisdom take me by the hand. God in his wisdom help me understand." Curtis seeks understanding but find none. Sadly Ian Curtis took his own life in 1980 at the age of 23.