Jon Savage, the author of ‘This Searing Light, The Sun and Everything Else,’ discusses the post-punk singer, who committed suicide on May 18, 1980 at age 23.
A few months into 1980, the British post-punk group Joy Division were ready to take the next steps in their promising career. Led by their compelling lead singer Ian Curtis, the emerging quartet from Manchester were gaining momentum with an acclaimed debut album in Unknown Pleasures; their live shows were must-see draws; and they had gotten exposure on television and favorable reviews in the music press. Now Joy Division were set to embark on their first-ever U.S. tour and release a new record, Closer, that saw them expanding on their sonic palette. But that all came to a tragic halt when Curtis – who struggled with personal and health issues – committed suicide at the age of 23 on May 18, 1980.
“A poetic, sensitive, tortured soul, the Ian Curtis of the myth—he was definitely that,” former Joy Division bassist Peter Hook remembered Curtis Continue reading →
Mark Grenon wrote to Trump saying chlorine dioxide ‘can rid the body of Covid-19’ days before the president promoted disinfectant as treatment
The leader of the most prominent group in the US peddling potentially lethal industrial bleach as a “miracle cure” for coronavirus wrote to Donald Trump at the White House this week.
In his letter, Mark Grenon told Trump that chlorine dioxide – a powerful bleach used in industrial processes such as textile manufacturing that can have fatal side-effects when drunk – is “a wonderful detox that can kill 99% of the pathogens in the body”. He added that it “can rid the body of Covid-19”.
A few days after Grenon dispatched his letter, Trump went on national TV at his daily coronavirus briefing at the White House on Thursday and promoted the idea that disinfectant could be used as a treatment for the virus. To the astonishment of medical experts, the US president said that disinfectant “knocks it out in a minute. One minute!” Continue reading →
“Our beloved John died yesterday evening at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville TN. We have no words to describe the grief our family is experiencing at this time. John was the love of my life and adored by our sons Jody, Jack and Tommy, daughter in law Fanny, and by our grandchildren.
John contracted Covid-19 and in spite of the incredible skill and care of his medical team at Vanderbilt he could not overcome the damage this virus inflicted on his body.
I sat with John – who was deeply sedated- in the hours before he passed and will be forever grateful for that opportunity.
My dearest wish is that people of all ages take this virus seriously and follow guidelines set by the CDC. We send our condolences and love to the thousands of other American families who are grieving the loss of loved ones at this time – and to so many other families across the world.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the outpouring of love we have received from family, friends, and fans all over the world. John will be so missed but he will continue to comfort us with his words and music and the gifts of kindness, humor and love he left for all of us to share.
In lieu of flowers or gifts at this time we would ask that a donation be made to one of the following non profits.” – Fiona Whelan Prine
The 71-year-old’s songs soundtrack moments of deep pain and joy for many, including writer Jayson Greene.
By JASON GREENE | Pitchfork
When my wife had been in labor for 16 hours, I played her John Prine’s “Everything Is Cool.” She’d begun gasping instead of breathing, climbing into the tub to gather herself. As Prine’s fingerpicking rang out from a tiny speaker, she closed her eyes and smiled.
The song is simple, like all Prine songs, a folk lament with a deliberate pace ideal for slow breathing. Over three chords, the singer-songwriter pines for a loved one who has traveled beyond reach—“Across the sea to an island where the bridges brightly burn/So far away from my land/The valley of the unconcerned.” The valley of the unconcerned—that felt like where our daughter was at that moment. We were stuck somewhere else, whatever you would call such a place: the cul-de-sac of the flustered. Together, we beckoned her: join us. The song looped, my wife’s labor progressed, and our daughter slowly moved closer. The midwife and nurses gathered around my wife, and she started pushing. Everything is cool.Everything’s OK.
When my daughter died two years later, the song rang out again into the stricken silence at her service. This time, it felt like a hymn. The song is pierced halfway through by an image of grace and purification: “I saw a hundred thousand blackbirds just flying through the sky/And they seemed to form a teardrop/From a black-haired angel’s eye/And that tear fell all around me/And it washed my sins away.” A message from our daughter, perhaps, a dispatch from the valley of the unconcerned, to which she returned. Everything is cool here, guys, she was reassuring us. Everything’s OK.
I tell all of this to John Prine, and he listens gravely, attentively. His wife Fiona has just brought me into his Manhattan hotel suite and left us alone. “Well, since you’ve been through what you’ve been through, you deserve to know what the song is about,” he says,
his voice so gravelly it sounds broken up by radio static. “It wasn’t about death, so much as about the death of a relationship. You just met the ‘black-haired angel,’” he says, nodding in Fiona’s direction. “I met her chasing after my soon-to-be ex-wife. I had malice in my heart, as angry as I could be, like I was going to find somebody and hurt them. It wasn’t like me at all; I wanted to get rid of that feeling. And while I was running around after my ex, I ran into Fiona, and she washed my sins away. I don’t know if I ever told her that. I think she knows it though.”
I ask if it surprises him that his divorce song would be my death song, that it would speak to me so clearly of grief and grace, redemption and transfiguration. He thinks for a second, then smiles. “Well, there’s only two things,” he says. “There’s life, and there’s death. So it’s a 50/50 shot.”
Married at 19, the brightest star of the post-punk scene at 22, dead at 23. The life of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis is the stuff of rock mythology – and a much talked-about new film. Here, his former band-mates talk exclusively to Jon Savage about their troubled singer’s last days
Saturday 27 October 1979. I’m up in the gods of the Ardwick Apollo, a huge 1930s cinema situated in the middle of slum clearance. The Buzzcocks’ manager Richard Boon is fiddling with the tripod of a primitive Beta video camera as he attempts to get the stage area into focus. His primary purpose is to film his group, who are headlining tonight, but he inadvertently ends up capturing a piece of history.
Framed within the cinema’s huge proscenium arch, Joy Division walk out and launch into “Dead Souls”. The peculiarity of this song is that it has a long, rolling introduction that allows the group to orient themselves in their environment for the night. Like many of the venues on this 24-date national tour, the Apollo is larger than the clubs that have been the group’s environment to date. But they are not intimidated. They inhabit the space.
Then he begins to sing: “Someone take these dreams away/ That point me to another day”. The lyric to “Dead Souls” is an unsettling evocation of psychic possession and the presence of past lives. The chorus is an anguished chant: “They keep calling me”. From today’s materialistic cultural perspective, this might excite derision, but like many others in that hall, I’m totally gripped. Continue reading →