Ian Curtis put an end to his life the night of May 18, 1980, two days before the roadshow to the United States. The lead singer of Joy Division played “The Idiot” of Iggy Pop in his pickup and hung himself in his kitchen in Macclesfield, leaving a short note: “This moment I would want to be dead, I simply cannot take it anymore”. In these few words, the enormity of a brilliant mind came to an end. It took him maybe few seconds, to tight the rope around his neck, deciding that this world is not enough for him. It took him only few seconds to decide that he would be better off someplace else, away from human cynicism.
Ian Curtis’ Performances
Ian Curtis was an inspirational frontman. When he performed on stage, he looked like coming from another world, coming out of himself, being possessed by his own demons. Plummeting in crises of epilepsy and being unable to control himself, Curtis was an idealistic poet, but at the same time, a cult character; someone who was so reserved to himself, but also someone who was so adored by the audiences. When he danced on stage, he looked so determined, so strong, so sure about himself, but then, backstage, his expressive eyes were going dark, gloom, empty.
Ian Curtis’ Personality
Being extremely emotional and shy, Curtis was a bipolar personality. On one hand, he would go fool around with his peers, and on the other hand, he could write highly intellectual poetry. He had so much in him, so many things to do and to give to the art and to the audiences that all the decisions he made at the age of 21 practically broke him down. He got married, he got a daughter, he was the idol of a very influential punk group and he had no choice but to be successful. However, being epileptic and taking heavy medication affected his judgment and ability to deal with all these things.
In “Passover”, from Joy Division’s debut album “Unknown Pleasures” (1979), Curtis writes “This is a crisis I knew had to come, destroying the balance I’d kept, doubting, unsettling and turning around, wondering what will come next”. Could it be that he knew how the ending would be?
Ian Curtis’ Poetry
Ian Curtis’ writings condemn cynicism, the lack of ethics, the autocratic greed of the Western world, and the secret nature of insight. For Curtis’ ability to integrate anything together and produce a masterpiece, his poetry seemed to fit, suggesting that art can be so simple if you really want to get to know it. For the people that couldn’t get along with the darkness of Joy Division and Ian’s obscurity, this kind of poetry was nothing more than glam-rock wasteland.
Ian Curtis knew how to write. Even more than that, he knew how to put verses together that could sound good both on paper and with music. In “New Dawn Fades” he writes “the strain’s too much, can’t take much more…. it was me, waiting for me, hoping for something more, me, seeing me this time, hoping for something else.” For anyone who deals with personal issues, this is exactly how he feels. And Ian knew that because he had his own issues too, but he also had an extraordinary ability to express his feelings artistically and reflect the pain and the strain and the emotional horror so eloquently so as to make an ordinary psychological human fear a #1 hit track on the punk charts. If this is not art, then what more can be art?
Curtis, only at his 23s, passed in the history of rock as the artist that got lost in his own labyrinth, being unable to deal with his depression. At paradoxical way, he became hero in a scene that had rejected its own idols. In “Disorder”, from “Unknown Pleasures” (1979), he writes “I’ve got the spirit, but lose the feeling.” Maybe this is what stopped the course of Joy Division so abruptly, the fact that Ian Curtis lost the feeling. He lost the feeling of performing live and breaking through the media reaching the audiences, touching the soul and transforming Joy Division to a super band, to a band that signaled, with its incomparable dark and claustrophobic sound and tormented verses, the end of post-punk storm. Yet, Ian Curtis will always be the guru of gloom because he never sold his soul to the devil of commercial success. And because he knew how to write.