Love Will Tear Us Apart

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"Love Will Tear Us Apart"
Single by Joy Division
B-side"These Days"
ReleasedJune 1980 (1980-06)[1]
Format7", 12", CD
RecordedMarch 1980, Strawberry Studios, Stockport, England, United Kingdom
GenrePost-punk,[2][3][4] synthpop[5][6][7]
Writer(s)Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris, and Bernard Sumner
ProducerMartin Hannett and Joy Division
Joy Division British singles and EPs chronology
"Love Will Tear Us Apart"
"Atmosphere" / "She's Lost Control"
Alternative cover
12" cover
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"Love Will Tear Us Apart"
Single by Joy Division
B-side"These Days"
ReleasedJune 1980 (1980-06)[1]
Format7", 12", CD
RecordedMarch 1980, Strawberry Studios, Stockport, England, United Kingdom
GenrePost-punk,[2][3][4] synthpop[5][6][7]
Writer(s)Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris, and Bernard Sumner
ProducerMartin Hannett and Joy Division
Joy Division British singles and EPs chronology
"Love Will Tear Us Apart"
"Atmosphere" / "She's Lost Control"
Alternative cover
12" cover
"Love Will Tear Us Apart"
Single by Joy Division
B-side"She's Lost Control"
Released1986 (1986)
LabelTonpress S-590
Joy Division and New Order Polish singles chronology
"Blue Monday"
"Love Will Tear Us Apart"
"Love Will Tear Us Apart (Permanent Mix)"
Single by Joy Division
from the album Permanent
Released1995 (1995)
Format7", 12", CD
LabelLondon Records
Writer(s)Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris, and Bernard Sumner
ProducerMartin Hannett and Joy Division
Joy Division chronology
"Love Will Tear Us Apart"

"Love Will Tear Us Apart" is a song by the British post-punk band Joy Division. It was written in August 1979, and debuted when the band supported Buzzcocks on their UK tour in September and October 1979. It is one of the few songs in which singer Ian Curtis played guitar (albeit somewhat minimally). The lyrics ostensibly reflect the problems in Ian Curtis's marriage to Deborah Curtis, as well as his general frame of mind in the time leading up to his suicide in May 1980.[citation needed] The title is an ironic reference to "Love Will Keep Us Together". Deborah Curtis had the phrase "Love Will Tear Us Apart" inscribed on Ian Curtis's memorial stone.[8]

The song was first released in June 1980[9] and became the band's first chart hit, reaching number 13 in the UK Single Charts.[10][11] Later that summer, "Love Will Tear Us Apart" peaked at number 42 on the American disco/dance charts.[12][13] It also reached number 1 in New Zealand in June 1981.[14] The band postponed their US tour after Ian 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[9] and reached number 19 on the UK charts[10] and re-appeared at number 3 in New Zealand during March 1984.[14] In 1985 the 7" single was released in Poland by Tonpress[9] in different sleeve under license from Factory and sold over 20000 copies.[15] In November 1988, it made one more Top 40 appearance in New Zealand, peaking at number 39.[14] "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 done by Arthur Baker and a new radio edit, also known as the Permanent Mix.[9] 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 all the classic Factory packaging, down to the FAC 23 catalogue number.[9]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1980-1981)Peak
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[14]1
UK Singles Chart[10][11]13
US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play[12][13]42
Chart (1983-1984)Peak
Irish Singles Chart[16]19
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[14]3
UK Singles Chart[10]19
Chart (1988)Peak
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[14]39
Chart (1995)Peak
UK Singles Chart[10]19
Chart (2007)Peak
UK Singles Chart[10]46

Track listing[edit]

Original release[edit]

7" vinyl (Factory FAC 23) & 12" vinyl (Factory FAC 23.12)[9]

Side 1

  1. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" – 3:18

Side 2

  1. "These Days" – 3:21
  2. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" – 3:06
  • 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.

1995 re-release[edit]

Cassette (London YOJMC 1)[9]
  1. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (radio version) – 3:38
  2. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (original version) – 3:25
12" vinyl (London YOJX1)[9]
  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
CDS (London YOJCD1)[9]
  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

2007 re-release[edit]

7" vinyl (Warner FAC 23)[9]
  1. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (original version) – 3:18
  2. "These Days" – 3:21
  3. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" – 3:06
CDS (Warner / FAC 23CD)[9]
  1. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (original version) – 3:18
  2. "Love Will Tear Us Apart '95" (radio version) – 3:38
  3. "Atmosphere" – 4:08


Pennine and Strawberry Studio Versions[edit]

The song was originally recorded at Pennine Studios, Oldham, on 8 January 1980 along with the B side, "These Days". This version, similar to the version the band played live, was disliked by Ian Curtis and Martin Hannett, so the band reconvened at Strawberry Studios, Stockport in March to re-record it.[17] 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.[18]

"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."[18]

Ironically, Stephen Morris disliked the re-recorded version;

"The version [of Love Will Tear Us Apart] 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."[19]

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:[20]

"Talking to Ian Curtis is... or was a strange experience because he's very warm... he talked, there were 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."

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


The video was shot by the band themselves as they recorded the song. At the start of the video the door that opens and shuts is carved the initials of the band members. The video has production errors with colour being 'browned out' at some points. Another production error led to Curtis' vocals not sounding as intended. The song as originally recorded in the video sounds much more like their Peel Session version. Curtis later re-recorded the vocals separately with distinctive hint of melancholy. The oddly-shaped guitar played by Curtis is a Vox Phantom, often mistaken as the Vox Mark III.[citation needed]


"Love Will Tear Us Apart" has remained popular and was listed by NME as the best single of all time in 2002. The song was listed by Rolling Stone magazine at number 181 in its top 500 songs of all time.[21] 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 none other than "Love Will Tear Us Apart". Serbian rock musician, journalist and writer Dejan Cukić wrote about "Love Will Tear Us Apart" as one of the forty-six songs that changed history of popular music in his 2007 book 45 obrtaja: Priče o pesmama. Italian music historian Piero Scaruffi stated "'Love Will Tear Us Apart' [...] is arguably the band's masterpiece, a majestic and rhythmic melody sung by a fatalist 'chansonnier'."[5] The song has also been used in television programs and in films, such as the 2001 film Donnie Darko,[22] in a pivotal scene before Donnie has to leave his girlfriend in order to save her. The 2001 film Series 7: The Contenders[22] features a music video for the song which characters explain as being part of a school project. Their homemade music video is in the style of a cheaply made '80s video with actors dressed in stereotypical goth fashion. The song is included in a 2002 film about the Manchester music scene, 24 Hour Party People,[22] during several scenes about the band and Curtis's suicide. It was also included in the 2006 indie film Wristcutters,[22] which takes place in an afterlife for people who have committed suicide. It is heard in the 2006 Doctor Who episode "School Reunion".[22] In the sci-fi comedy radio series Undone, the song is performed as a chime on an ice cream van.[23] "Love Will Tear Us Apart" was also featured at the beginning of UK police drama, Silent Witness in the episode "Voids: Part 1". The song is featured in the American Dad! episode "Escape from Pearl Bailey".

An edited version of the chorus is sung by Manchester United fans about winger Ryan Giggs ("Giggs, Giggs will tear you apart again"), along with Stoke City who began to sing an altered version against West Ham. Birmingham City have also adapted the song and their fans sing the song about Chris Burke. Sydney FC also adapted the song for former star striker Alex Brosque. A similar version is sung by the Barmy Army, English cricket's official supporters group when spinner Graeme Swann is bowling.

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.[24]

Cover versions[edit]

"Love Will Tear Us Apart" was first covered and recorded by Austrian (!) New Wave Band Chuzpe in 1980/1981 (GIG Records 111 103) and has since been covered by many artists including The Cure, Dave Gahan, Peter Hook, Peter Hook & The Light, Bad Lieutenant,[25] Paul Young,[26] Thom Yorke, Atoms for Peace, U2, Swans, Björk, Yat Kha, Fall Out Boy,[27] Calexico,[28] José González,[29] Nerina Pallot, Evelyn Evelyn, Nouvelle Vague,[30] P. J. Proby, Motorama, The Mazqed Emyzzaries!, Another Victim, Susanna and the Magical Orchestra, Moonspell, Chuzpe77, Mark Owen, Hawksley Workman, Brothers Past, Adrian Borland, Unbroken, Broken Social Scene, Human Drama, Heavens, Red Mecca, Stanton Miranda, Adam Green, Bloc Party, John Frusciante, Arcade Fire, Revere, Squarepusher,[31] Honeyroot,[32] Chris Edwards, The Blood Divine, Simple Minds, Oysterband with June Tabor, Centre Excuse, Jamie Cullum, Bis, In the Nursery, Apoptygma Berzerk and The Mulhollands. In 1996, the Serbian Eurodance group Tap 011 released a cover version of this song on Serbian language, with lyrics "Ljubav ne gleda na sat" ("Love Don't Sees On Clock"), on their second studio album "Gaće".[33] The song "Let's Dance to Joy Division" by UK act The Wombats was inspired by "Love Will Tear Us Apart", and includes "let love tear us apart" in the lyrics; similarly, Kasper Bjørke's song "Alcatrez" references "Love Will Tear Us Apart": "Do you think it's true that our love will tear us apart?"; post-hardcore band Thursday released a song entitled "Ian Curtis" on their 1999 debut Waiting, the chorus of which features a repeated refrain of "Isolation/ love has torn us apart"; the song "Tiny Skeleyons" by An Horse also references "Love Will Tear Us Apart" in the lyric "Ian Curtis said it would tear us apart".

Broken Social Scene's cover was featured in the soundtrack for The Time Traveler's Wife.

Bush covered the song as a bonus track on their album The Sea of Memories, having previously covered the song In a Lonely Place.

On 11 November 2009 the song was also performed in in the opening scene of Season 5 Episode 7 of the CBS television series Criminal Minds, by the musician character Dante[34] (actual song sung by Gavin Rossdale).[35]

The chorus of "Love Will Tear Us Apart" features heavily on the last third of Sufjan Stevens's epic song "Christmas Unicorn" from volume 10 of his Songs For Christmas box set.[36]

The last recorded cover to date is the one made by the Australian singer-songrwriter Scott Matthew for his album "Unlearned" (2013).


Chuzpe version[edit]

Chart (1981)Peak
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[25]8

Paul Young version[37][edit]

Chart (1984)Peak
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[26]9
Germany (Media Control AG)[38]40
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[39]25
Netherlands (Mega Single Top 100)[40]9

Honeyroot version[edit]

Chart (2005)Peak
UK (Official Charts Company)[32]70

Swans version[edit]

Love Will Tear Us Apart
EP by Swans
Released1988 (1988)
GenreIndustrial, experimental rock, post-punk
LabelProduct Inc.
ProducerMichael Gira
Swans chronology
Children of God
Love Will Tear Us Apart
Feel Good Now

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".[41]

EP track listing[edit]

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


Rock Band Music Gaming Platform[edit]

It was made available to download on 5 April 2011 for play in Rock Band 3 Basic, and PRO mode which utilizes real guitar / bass guitar, and MIDI compatible electronic drum kits / keyboards in addition to vocals.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Curtis, Deborah (2013) [First published 1995]. Touching from a Distance: Ian Curtis and Joy Division. London: Faber & Faber. p. 138. ISBN 0-57126515-4. ISBN 978-0-57126-515-2. 
  2. ^ Bush, John. "'Love Will Tear Us Apart' - Joy Division: Review". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 23 May 2013. "'Love Will Tear Us Apart' reflects both the tragedy of Ian Curtis' demise and the spark that made Joy Division the first, best post-punk band." 
  3. ^ "'Love Will Tear Us Apart' - Joy Division". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 1 June 2013. 
  4. ^ Friskics-Warren, Bill (2005). I'll Take You There. Pop Music and the Urge for Transcendence. Continuum. ISBN 0-82641700-0. ISBN 978-0-82641-700-8. "the cascading melody of Joy Division's sublimely gloomy post-punk anthem, 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' (p. 98)."  Reprint in 2006.
  5. ^ a b Scaruffi, Piero. "Joy Division". The History of Rock Music. Retrieved 23 October 2013. "Their career ended with 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' (1980), which was the beginning of a new genre: synth-pop." 
  6. ^ 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." 
  7. ^ Chuck AzEee! (7 May 2003). "Joy Division – Substance". Retrieved 23 October 2013. "the moody "Love Will Tear Us Apart" would become a synth-pop anthem and one of the most often covered songs of the era." 
  8. ^ Photo on Google Image.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "'Love Will Tear Us Apart' (Joy Division version)" at Discogs (list of releases). Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  10. ^ a b c d e f "Joy Division". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 22 July 2013. 
  11. ^ a b Bush, John. "Joy Division. Artist Biography". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 22 June 2013. "The summer of 1980 proved to be the blooming of the band's commercial status, when a re-release of 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' rose to number 13 on the British singles chart." 
  12. ^ a b "Joy Division - Awards : AllMusic (Billboard Singles)". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 22 June 2013. 
  13. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (2004). Joel Whitburn's Hot Dance Disco 1974-2003. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research. p. 140. ISBN 0-89820156-X. ISBN 978-0-89820-156-7. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f " – Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart". Top 40 Singles.
  15. ^ (Polish) Buda, Andrzej (2006). Historia rocka, popu i hip-hopu - według krytyków: 1974 - 2000. Wydawn. Niezależne (Independent editors). ISBN 8-39152728-X. ISBN 978-8-39152-728-3. 
  16. ^ "Love will tear us apart in Irish Chart". IRMA. Retrieved 21 June 2013.  Only one result when searching "Love will tear us apart"
  17. ^ Joy Division sessions. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
  18. ^ a b Graham, Pat (2011). Instrument. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. p. 40. ISBN 1-45210895-1. ISBN 978-1-45210-895-7. 
  19. ^ Gale, Lee (17 December 2010). "An Ideal for Reliving (interview with Stephen Morris)". GQ (New York City). Retrieved 1 June 2013. 
  20. ^ Bono (1980). "Interview on 'Joy Division', RTE radio, Ireland". YouTube. Retrieved 1 June 2013. 
  21. ^ Staff (26 May 2011). "500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 1 June 2013. 
  22. ^ a b c d e "Joy Division. Soundtrack - 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  23. ^ "Unrelated", Undone, season 2, episode 3. Airdate: 3 February 2008.
  24. ^ 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. 
  25. ^ a b "Chuzpe – Love Will Tear Us Apart –" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  26. ^ a b " – Paul Young – Love Will Tear Us Apart" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  27. ^ Johnny Loftus. "My Heart Will Always Be the B-Side to My Tongue [EP] review on Allmusic". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  28. ^ "Calexico's Love Will Tear Us Apart cover of Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart". Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  29. ^ "José González's Love Will Tear Us Apart cover of Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart". Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  30. ^ (French) Louis (4 August 2007). "Critique de l'album Nouvelle Vague de Nouvelle Vague -". Albumrock. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  31. ^ John Bush. "Do You Know Squarepusher review on Allmusic". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  32. ^ a b "Honeyroot". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  33. ^ Side, My (30 June 2010). "iTunes - Music - Oh My! by The Mulhollands". iTunes Store. Retrieved 1 June 2013. 
  34. ^ Criminal Minds 05X07 - Dante sings "Love Will Tear Us Apart". Youtube. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  35. ^ Gavin Rossdale Covering "Love Will Tear Us Apart". Youtube. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  36. ^ "Christmas Unicorn from Silver & Gold by Sufjan Stevens (free listening)". Asthmatic Kitty Records. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  37. ^ "'Love Will Tear Us Apart' (Paul Young version)" at Discogs (list of releases). Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  38. ^ "Paul Young - Love Will Tear Us Apart". Media Control. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  39. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Paul Young search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  40. ^ " – Paul Young – Love Will Tear Us Apart" (in Dutch). Mega Single Top 100. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  41. ^ "'Love Will Tear Us Apart' (Swans version)" at Discogs (list of releases). Retrieved 8 August 2013.

External links[edit]