Why is It So Embarrassing to Admit that I Love Joy Division?
We all have those moments that make us feel like a dope. Mine came two weeks ago when I learned that I had maxed out my cellular data a week and a half before the billing cycle ended, meaning that for ten days, my phone was kind of useless when not around wi-fi. Well, unless I actually wanted to make calls on it, but nobody wants that.
At some point I turned off my wi-fi for who knows why, forgot to turn it back on, and then spent all of December listening to the subscription music website rdio in my car and in my house, all the time eating up my cellular data.
And all this because I, in 2013, discovered Joy Division.
I’d always associated Joy Division with suicidal teenagers. I’d only ever heard Love Will Tear Us Apart and the Hole version of She’s Lost Control, which was actually the first Joy Division anything I ever heard, twenty or so years ago. Joy Division is a band that…well, you know, there are a lot of clichés associated with liking them. Possibly more so than any other band ever. At least, that’s the way my brain has always perceived it. Which is why I’d always avoided listening to them before.
But a few months ago, someone on Facebook started a conversation about Britpop, which I was only too happy to try to dominate. And he suggested I watch 24 Hour Party People, (which I’d also avoided for years due to a misconception based on the movie poster). I watched it and immediately went back to the beginning and watched it again, because it is an awesome movie. And then I ended up buying the DVD, twice, (one was a screener with an annoying time signature in the corner).
And yet, I still avoided listening to Joy Division, because of that whole suicidal teenager thing. Or is it a hipster cliché? I mean, I don’t care about looking like a hipster, but I have a problem with looking like a poser because that was a thing when I was growing up in the 80’s. (My hot skater neighbor built a little quarter pipe and put it in his front yard and prominently spray painted on it were the words NO POSERS). Joy Division has always tripped my personal poser-dar. I’ve never had any other stupid mental block with a band, only them. Because I’m an asshole and I assume everyone likes them because they feel like they’re supposed to, not because it’s good music that speaks to a lot of people. Or, whatever.
Finally I listened to Unknown Pleasures. And at first I was like, hm, sad teenager music is kind of a good label for this… until, as always, I hit a bassline that made me swoon (you know, when it feels like the bass guitar is something inside you that’s being played? If you don’t know what I mean, listen to Practice Makes Perfect by Wire). I listened to that song a hundred times (live version of The Only Mistake), and then I looked up the album it’s on, Still, and listened to that a hundred times, and then I went back to Unknown Pleasures and listened to it until I was like HOLY FUCK (Bassline in Shadowplay. Or Wilderness).
And you know, it’s not sad teenager music at all. Because the singing isn’t whiny, (my idea of sad teenager music is Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream which is, to me, some of the whiniest shit ever wrought), and the bass is too present for it to be anything other than fucking rock and roll. I mean, the suicide lyrics are there a lot, but that’s not really surprising.
So Joy Division is all I’ve been listening to since, like, Thanksgiving. Good Christmas tree-trimming music. No word yet on when I’ll get over my dislike of the Happy Mondays, who my younger self hated because they were too debauched, which is portrayed hilariously in 24 Hour Party People.