The last album that Ian Curtis ever listened to was Iggy Pop’s The Idiot. It was found on the record player when the Joy Division frontman’s body was discovered. On the one hand, this connection has a dark note of prescience, however, it also perhaps hints at Curtis’ profound love of the arts.
The album features a song called ‘Tiny Girl’, a track that starts with the line, ‘Well the day begins, you don’t want to live, ‘cause you can’t believe in the one you’re with.’” And in another strange (or orchestrated) link, The Idiot is also inspired by Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s book of the same name about an epileptic Prince whose goodhearted nature leads to mockery in a cruel and unforgiving world which eventually drives him mad.
Owing to the darkness already surrounding the mystic lore of the band, much can be read into the bleak foreshadowing of such connections. However, if you put that mysticism to one side, you can also view the prescience of the album’s presence as a sort of goodbye filled with the profundity of the joy and bonds that Pop’s masterpiece spawned in his life.
As Bernard Sumner explained to Spin in 2005: “I knew Ian Curtis from going to punk gigs. So when we were forming Joy Division, I just gave him the job on the phone. I didn’t even listen to him [sing]. When we went around to his house to pick up his PA system, he had ‘China Girl’ playing. I said, ‘Who’s this track by?’ He said, ‘Oh, it’s Iggy.’ I was like, ‘This is fantastic. Bring it to rehearsal tonight, we’ll try and rip it up.’ So that’s how I got to know Ian.”
Thus, it was a very spiritual moment when Pop joined Sumner on stage at the Carnegie Hall and offered up a rendition of Curtis’ own opus ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ in tribute. As Pop said in praise of Joy Division: “These songs are so great. I heard this stuff when I was living in Berlin in the 70s and I was just mighty, mighty impressed. This is fine art and that’s about all I can say about it. On top of all of its other virtues, these are moral songs and those are very difficult to write.”
You can check out the stunning collaboration below.