R.I.P. Ian Curtis: Five of Our Favorite Joy Divison Covers on the 31st Anniversary of His Death

Categories: r.i.p.
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Ian Curtis once said, "Existence is.. well.. what does it matter? I exist on the best terms I can. The past is now part of my future. The present is well out of hand." Thirty-one years ago today, he committed suicide, on the eve of Joy Division's first North American Tour. His last performance was at Birmingham University on May 2, 1980--his last song, "Digital."

The English post-punk legends released their debut album Unknown Pleasures in 1979, followed by Closer in 1980. Their songs have been covered hundreds and hundreds of times, ranging from a dubstep version of "She's Lost Control" to a danceable version of "No Love Lost," but few can hold a candle to the originals. We remember Curtis now on the anniversary of his death with our favorite Joy Division cover songs.




5. José González - "Love Will Tear Us Apart"
"Love Will Tear Us Apart" is probably Joy Division's best known song so naturally there are a million covers of it floating around. We picked Jose José González's acoustic version from a Washington, D.C. show because of the quiet intensity of his voice. (Swans did another great version, but the audio quality in the video isn't so spectacular.)


Low - "Transmission"
Low's cover of "Transmission" appeared on their 1995 record, A Means to an End, and it's a beautiful tribute. They captured the emotion behind the song--far more important than mimicking the sound--and made it their own, while still paying homage to the post-punk original.


Radiohead - "Ceremony"
"Ceremony" was only played by Joy Division live once--on the last show before Curtis died. It's a fairly faithful cover, and we liked it because Curtis' words sung by Thom Yorke against the killer drumming of Phil Selway is a solid combination.


The Horrors - "No Love Lost"
"No Love Lost" is a lovely song and the Horrors did a killer cover of it. Singer Faris Badwan's snarl is scathing and the organs are a nice touch. (LCD Soundsystem did a pretty good job with "No Love Lost," but we prefer the Horrors version.)


Nine Inch Nails - "Dead Souls"
NIN frontman Trent Reznor's been a long-time fan and his version of one of Joy Division's most haunting songs is one of the best we've ever seen. 

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