A (Personal) History Lesson with New Order

I got a little excited when I heard ‘Blue Monday’ being sampled for the music montage in the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Wembley earlier this month. True, I was waiting on Doctor Who references but the homage to British music over the years incited the Anglophile in me, even at 4am, GMT +10. The conscious effort to include not only the obvious game-changers of British music was a nice touch. Instead of the usual Elton John, Queen, Beatles, Bowie, McCartney, a more alternative Britain was also presented: there was Wham!, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, The Clash, The Kinks, Stones, Sex Pistols, Prodigy and of course, New Order.

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And then there’s the bit about New Order playing for the closing ceremony concert in Hyde Park alongside The Specials (yay) and Blur (also yay). Pleased as I am, I would also like to bring to attention, the importance of New Order, please listen.

18 May 1980, Joy Division were scheduled to tour America the next day. 18 May 1980, vocalist of Joy Division, Ian Curtis, committed suicide. Insert all the clichés in the world – phoenix rising from the ashes/when one door closes, another opens/every cloud has a silver lining – Boom. New Order was then formed from this loss.

Except for ‘Ceremony’ and ‘In A Lonely Place,’ both penned by Curtis, this new band were to perform all new original songs and took on a new direction, that is New Wave dance and electronic music.

But enough of Wikipedia factoids, New Order was as important to myself as they were in the music universe.

While most of my musicology was handed down by reasonably cooler older siblings, New Order was something I ‘owned’ myself. My dad had made me listen to ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ when I was an impressible young fellow, citing it as “the most heart-wrenching song there is” and since then, with dial-up Internet I would spent hours researching Joy Division which naturally, led me to New Order. While cooler older siblings were into grunge and punk rock, I felt special with my Joy Division and New Order CDs which I bought with money meant to be for my Math tuition teacher.

Years later, my love for Math would wane but even today, the opening riff of ‘Ceremony’ reminds me of all the good things in the world like rainy days, Doctor Who Christmas specials, ironed button down shirts, my childhood crush on Christopher Robin, cat videos and accurate horoscopes. I played it on long walks, in the shower, in the car, during real ceremonies, on good days and at the end of bad days. It was apropos all of the time. So here, I maintain that it is one of the best songs in musical history of all time, of all time.