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In Their Own Write: Handwritten lyrics by Nick Cave, David Bowie, Joey Ramone, Kate Bush and more

Beat writer Alexander Trocchi was wise to the easy money to be made from selling handwritten drafts of famous works of literature. When short of cash for his drug habit, Trocchi would write out in longhand one of his novels (Young Adam, White Thighs, whichever) and sell it on to some collector as the one and only original handwritten manuscript. It kept him from finding a job or worse, from writing something new. Across London and Paris there’s probably dozens of these supposed “originals” cobbled together by Trocchi in his moment of need.

If Trocchi had lived and tried the same today, he would probably have been found out for his ruse as the market for original handwritten drafts to books, poetry and pop songs is now a mega business.

Last year, Bob Dylan’s handwritten lyrics for “Like A Rolling Stone” was sold at auction for $2 million. In 2005, John Lennon’s pen-drafted words for “All You Need is Love” made $1.25 million at auction, while in April 2015, Don Maclean’s handwritten lyric sheet for “American Pie” sold for $1,205,000.

Handwritten pop lyrics are as valuable as works of art—in fact they are works of art—as in this digital age where everything is written by keyboard, the value of such pen-scrawled texts on legal pad or hotel note paper only increase in value year on year. Though the top ten most expensive lyric sheets are about 2/3 the work of John Lennon (4) and Bob Dylan (2), there are plenty of other musicians out there who are finding their first drafts to popular songs offer them or their inheritors a comfortable pension.
David Bowie’s handwritten lyrics for ‘Jean Genie’ made $29,063 at auction.
Bowie: Lyric detail for ‘Jean Genie.’
Ziggy jams with a ballpoint pen: David Bowie’s handwritten lyrics for ‘Ziggy Stardust.’
One of Nick Cave’s many notebooks with original lyrics for ‘No Pussy Blues.’
Cave’s typed lyrics for ‘Push the Sky Away.’
No notebook or typewriter for Joey Ramone—the lyrics for ‘Disassembled’ were written on an old Alka Seltzer box.
More original pop lyrics, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Joy Division: The Documentary
10:12 am


Joy Division
Ian Curtis

It hardly seems like thirty-five years since Joy Division’s lead singer Ian Curtis committed suicide and brought to an end one of the most promising bands since The Beatles. Though perhaps not unexpected, Curtis’ suicide came at a crucial moment for Joy Division on the eve of a major US tour. Guitarist Bernard Sumner later said that if Curtis had decided on killing himself, then there was nothing anyone could have done to prevent him from doing so. Indeed, Curtis often confided in his wife Deborah that he had no desire to live past his twenties. It was a romantic notion of the artist as tortured poet. Deborah thought Ian was just going through a phase that he would eventually grow out of. However, when she discovered some of Ian’s early teenage poems she understood that the singer was darkly troubled.

As TV presenter and record company supremo Tony Wilson once remarked, punk rock said “Fuck off,” Joy Division said, “We’re fucked.” The idea of being fucked came in part from Curtis’ own sense of alienation and the environment in which he, and his fellow bandmates Sumner, Peter Hook (bass) and Stephen Morris (drums) grew up—a dilapidated industrial wasteland being slowly bulldozed to make way for high rise buildings and shopping centers.
This was Britain in the seventies: a twice bankrupted country, deprived inner cities with no amenities, where buildings were collapsing, services defunct, unemployment and poverty rife. This is all too easy to list, but take one example of what conditions were like—this was a country where a vast number of homes did not have indoor toilets. The demand for change was not just inspired by a sense of political or social justice but by the arrival of American television programs—detective shows like Cannon, Columbo, Ironside, and kids shows like The Monkees and even The Banana Splits—which presented an alternate technicolor world where people had spacious apartments with central heating, air conditioning, hot and cold running water, matching curtains, scatter cushions and an affluent lifestyle. Joy Division’s hometown of Manchester—like Glasgow or Newcastle or Liverpool or Leeds or Birmingham—was Dickensian in comparison, and the lack of shared communal, creative experiences led many to focus inwards.

When punk arrived in the form of a Sex Pistols gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall, Manchester in 1976, Curtis and co. saw a way out. Joy Division: The Documentary tells the story of Ian Curtis, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris from their beginnings as a punk-inspired band Warsaw to recording their seminal and generation defining records Unknown Pleasures and Closer. It’s a story of how lasting success is created by the disparate involvement of managers, producers, designers, club owners, friends, but most importantly talent.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Peter Hook to perform full Joy Division catalogue, marking the 35th anniversary of Ian Curtis’ death
09:27 am


Joy Division
Ian Curtis
Peter Hook

Some amazing news via NME:

Peter Hook has announced that he will perform the complete works of Joy Division at a one-off concert at Christ Church, Macclesfield in May. The date marks exactly 35 years since the death of the band’s singer Ian Curtis.

Hook and his current band, The Light, will play every single song the band recorded in chronological order, including both studio albums ‘Unknown Pleasures’ and ‘Closer’. They will also play the posthumously released ‘Still’ as well as B-sides and rarities.

Looking ahead to the Macclesfield show, Hook added: “For the 35th anniversary I decided that to do a proper celebration we need to play all the music. It will be every song that Joy Division ever wrote and recorded in one go. It’s a bit of a marathon! It’s 48 songs, comprising all the singles, B-sides, and album tracks. You know what – there’s not a duff one in it! I wish I could say that about New Order!”


Macclesfield is the town south of Manchester, England from whence Joy Division singer Ian Curtis originally hailed, and where he kept his residence at the time of his 1980 suicide—DM recently reported on efforts to preserve Curtis’ home. Hook’s concert will be titled “So This is Permanence,” a phrase lifted from the first line of the song “Twenty Four Hours,” from the LP Closer, and which was also the title of a rather lovely book published last year, which collects Curtis’ writings.

Tickets go on sale Wednesday, March 25th at 9:00 AM, presumably GMT. Best of luck.

Enjoy this short but informative and quite good BBC segment on Curtis and Joy Division.

Bonus! Here’s Peter Hook giving a lesson on how to play JD’s signature song, “Love Will Tear us Apart.”

Much gratitude to Valerie Johnson for this find.

Previously on Dangerous Minds
The ‘rare’ ‘David Bowie’ Joy Division cover that hoaxed the internet
You knew this would happen: The inevitable Worf-Joy Division mash-up t-shirt
Ian Curtis’ original handwritten lyrics for ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Joy Division fans raising money to turn Ian Curtis’ home into a museum
09:34 am


Joy Division
Ian Curtis

After Joy Division singer Ian Curtis’ home was listed for sale last week, a campaign was launched to raise funds from fans of the band to buy the house and turn it into a Joy Division museum, NME reports:

The listing reads: “Situated in a popular and central location, this double-fronted character cottage offers spacious accommodation with two reception rooms, two double bedrooms, a good size kitchen and a shared courtyard garden.”

The house was previously on the market for £64,950 in 2002. It was used as a location in the 2007 Anton Corbijn-directed film Control. Curtis took his own life in the property on May 18, 1980 at the age of 23, days before the band were due to undertake a US tour.

Fans are trying to group together to buy the house in order to prevent developers from getting it. Zak Davies, who started the campaign, which has raised £600 so far, said on its website: “As important as every member of Joy Division was to the band, one member that made the difference was Ian Curtis. The troubled yet gifted singer and lead guitarist has impacted upon so many peoples lives.

“Recently his final home and the place where he spent his final moments has gone up for sale in Macclesfield. Rather than it be taken by developers or sold for development, we feel a place with such cultural significance with such an important man attached deserves to be made into a museum and somewhere that Joy Division fans from around the world can come to pay respects and learn about Ian Curtis.”


The realtor’s listing is here, if you’d like a peek into the place. Or maybe you’d like to simply buy it for yourself. Maybe YOU’D be the one saving it—the idea of turning the room where a gifted artist killed himself into an open-to-the-public shrine could be quite solemn and moving, or it could become a tacky and gross Mecca to the death romanticizers for whom the act of Curtis’ suicide transformed him into a doleful post-punk Christ figure.

Here’s an informative and fittingly gloomy BBC bio of Curtis.

Previously on Dangerous Minds
Ian Curtis’ kitchen table up for auction on eBay
Ian Curtis: handwritten schoolboy poem up for auction
Ian Curtis’ original handwritten lyrics for ‘Love will Tear us Apart’
‘Here are the Young Men’: Classic Joy Division live footage, 1979-1980

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Ian Curtis: Handwritten schoolboy poem up for auction

As a child Joy Division’s lead singer wanted to be stuntman. He went so far as setting up a specially constructed stunt that involved him jumping off a garage roof. Cheered on by friends, Curtis donned a crash helmet and took a giant leap off the roof. He landed badly and his ambitions for a career as a stuntman were over.

Thankfully, Curtis showed greater talent for writing poetry, and it would be his lyric writing and singing that eventually brought him fame. Now, one of his original poems, written circa 1966-67 when Curtis was at school, is to be sold next month at a “Beatles Rock ‘n’ Roll Memorabilia Auction,” with a starting bid of $1,200 (£1,000).

According to Tracks Auction the poem: written on a piece of lined paper and is glued into a school book called Our Book Of Epitaphs along with poems from the other pupils in the class.

It reads, “An Epitaph for an Electrian (sic), Here lies Fred the electrian (sic), who went on a very fateful mission, he got a shock when tampering with a fuse, which went from his head right down to his shoes, by I. Curtis”.

Ian has also drawn a small picture of a man and a tombstone.

Hardly T. S. Eliot but certainly not McGonagall.

The poem is described as being in “excellent” condition and measures 6.5 inches x 3.75 inches. It is contained within a larger book of poems by fellow classmates which has some wear and tear and a few of the poems have become detached from the book.
A letter confirming the poem’s authenticity from the owner and former classmate of the singer is included. The letter reads:

“I grew up on Hurdsfield Estate, Macclesfield where I attended Hurdsfield Junior School. I started Hurdsfield Junior School in 1963 where I met Ian Curtis, he was a fellow pupil in my class and we went through school together. Mr Young was our teacher when this piece of work was carried out, he himself has got a poem in the book along with myself and all the other pupils in the class. This poem was written in 1966 or 1967. I was presented with the book at the end of the school year for being head boy. At the time the head teacher was called Mr Tattasall. Ian Curtis lived on Grey Stoke Road, Hurdsfield Estate, I lived on Delemere Road, Hurdsfield Estate, Cheshire”.

As far as pop culture goes, it seems everything and anything is up for grabs, and amongst the other lots going under the hammer are Adam Ant’s 1981 “Prince Charming” shirt, Kate Bush’s handwritten lyrics for “Wuthering Heights,” various signed singles, albums, posters and concert programmes, and a shed load of Beatles’ memorabilia. I’m sure these will all make more than their asking prices and if you fancy bidding check details they are here.
Below Kate Bush’s handwritten lyrics for ‘Wuthering Heights.’
H/T Letters of Note

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Ian Curtis’ original handwritten lyrics for ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’
10:44 am


Joy Division
Ian Curtis

After Ian Curtis’ handwritten lyrics for Joy Division’s single most iconic song, “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” surfaced in a Joy Division/New Order exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, images of the wrinkled 35-year-old sheet of notebook paper have been making fairly brisk rounds of Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. It’s not hard to understand why. The single was released very shortly after Curtis’ suicide, which transformed the song into an instant self-elegy for both Curtis and the beloved band. The title, in fact, is literally Curtis’ epitaph.


But even if Curtis had decided not to end his life that day in 1980, and Joy Division had continued, doesn’t it seem likely that it would have remained their signature song anyway? It has an intrinsic and enduring melancholy beauty that surely resonates even with listeners who know nothing of the song’s tragic connections, and its lyrics, though highly literate, still touch the universal. From coffeehouses to arena stage, it’s easily Joy Division’s most covered song. Here’s a roundup of several artists trying their hand.

David Gahan of Depeche Mode

Nouvelle Vague

Probably my favorite despite my growing weariness of ukuleles—Evelyn Evelyn


José González of Junip

Atoms For Peace

And of course, Joy Division‘s original.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Ian Curtis’ kitchen table for auction on eBay
11:02 am

Pop Culture

Joy Division
Ian Curtis

If you’ve ever wanted to own a piece of Ian Curtis now is your chance! Apparently the Joy Divison frontman’s kitchen table is up for sale on eBay.

From the eBay listing:

May the 18th 1980 Ian Curtis the singer of Joy Division took his own life in the Kitchen of the house he lived in with his wife Debbie at 77 Barton Street.

~ Snip

Included with the Table are confirmation of authenticity from Natalie Curtis, Debbie Curtis, Marco from Joy Division Central and Vicky Morgan. Also there is a four page print from a web site with pics taken inside 77 Barton Street when it was a B and B and a picture of Dorothy Smith.

The bidding began with a reserve of £100. The current bid is at £6,900.00 and the bidding ends on November 13, 2013.

“Ian Curtis’ Kitchen Table” would make a good name for a band.

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
The Eternal: Ian Curtis would have been 57 today
07:43 pm


Joy Division
Ian Curtis

We usually do these type of posts as “Happy Birthday ___” but to do that for Ian Curtis, the lead singer with Joy Division, who would have been 57-years-old today, seemed a bit much. A fragile and beautiful talent, Curtis was only 23, when he took his own life, in May 1980. His death came just before Joy Division were about to tour the States. Talk about bad timing.

I can still recall the first time I saw Curtis on TV, with his awkward, uncoordinated dancing, and his strange, resonate voice filled with loss, longing.

“You can’t listen to something without being able to, hopefully, put a feeling into the song…

...I think some of the things come out of confusion..But I’m not too sure what…exactly what or why.

When Joy Division finished recording their defining album, Closer, Curtis wrote to the band’s manager, Rob Gretton, expressing his dislike for the record:


Judged purely on my own terms, and not to be interpreted as an opinion or reflection of mass media or public taste but a criticism of my own esoteric and elitist mind of which the mysteries of life are very few and beside which the grace of God has deemed to indicate in a vision the true nature of all things, plus the fact that everyone else are a sneaky, japing load of tossers, I decree that this LP is a disaster.

I K Curtis

He was wrong. Closer is a work of brilliance, which now stands as testament to Ian Curtis’s talents.

Bonus clip, plus rare interview with Curtis, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Siouxsie, Morrissey, John Lydon, Robert Smith and more get superhero makeovers

Brazilian designer Butcher Billy re-imagines Siouxsie Sioux, Mark Mothersbaugh, Ian Curtis, John Lydon, Morrissey, Robert Smith and Billy Idol as comic book superheroes. His series is called The Post-Punk / New Wave Super Friends.

Now only if there was a Mark E. Smith one. He’d probably have to be a supervillain, tho…


More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Joy Division: In Concert and On Film

No pix just sound. Joy Division live at the Bowdon Vale Youth Club, Altrincham, England, March 14th 1979. Close your eyes and you’re there.

Set list:

01. “Exercise One” 0:00
02. “She’s Lost Control” 2:54
03. “Shadowplay” 7:11
04. “Leaders Of Men” 10:58
05. “Insight” 13:23
06. “Disorder” 17:04
07. “Glass” 20:36
08. “Digital” 24:03
09. “Ice Age” 27:00
10. “Warsaw” 30:15
11. “Transmission” 32:37
12. “I Remember Nothing” 36:07
13. “No Love Lost” 42:40

Pix and sound. Grant Gee’s impressive 2007 documentary Joy Divsion definitively brings together all the elements of the band’s story (some parts of which has been heard in other films, in other documentaries) together into one complete and engrossing film. Written by Jon Savage and containing interviews from Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris, Peter Hook, Tony Wilson, Rob Gretton, Peter Saville, Anton Corbijn, Genesis P. Orridge, together with archive footage of Joy Division, Martin Hannett, John Peel and Ian Curtis.

This version is in English with sub-titles in Spanish.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
When William Burroughs met Joy Division

When you consider all of the famous and infamous people who William Burroughs met in his lifetime, maybe the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game should be adapted for the late Beat author (I’d have a “Burroughs” of one, as I met him (briefly) in Los Angeles in 1996).  At the Reality Studio blog, there’s a fascinating tale, told in great detail, about the time Joy Division shared the same stage with Burroughs, Brion Gysin and Cabaret Voltaire in Belgium:

Joy Division was given its first opportunity to play outside the United Kingdom on 16 October 1979. That alone would have distinguished the gig for the band, but of special interest to Curtis and his mates was the fact that they would be opening for Burroughs. The avant-garde theater troupe Plan K, which had made a specialty of interpreting Burroughs’ work, were founding a performance space in a former sugar refinery in Brussels, Belgium. The opening was conceived as a multimedia spectacle. Films were to be screened — among others, Nicholas Roeg’s Performance (starring Mick Jagger) and Burroughs’ own experiments with Antony Balch. The Plan K theater troupe were to perform “23 Skidoo.” Joy Division and Cabaret Voltaire were to give “rock” concerts. And Burroughs and Brion Gysin were to read from their recently published book, The Third Mind.

Before the evening’s events, Burroughs and Joy Division gave separate interviews to the culture magazine En Attendant. Graciously provided to RealityStudio by the interviewer and the organizer of the Plan K opening, Michel Duval, these have been translated from the French and are reproduced here for the first time since their publication in November 1979. You can read the French original or the English translation of Duval’s interview with Joy Division, as well as the French original or the English translation of Duval’s interview with William Burroughs.

After Burroughs’ reading brought the opening of Plan K to its climax, Curtis attempted to introduce himself to his literary idol. This meeting, like so many things about both Curtis and Burroughs, has already become legend — which is another way of saying that its factual basis may have receded into darkness. If you search around the internet, you’ll see sites describing the encounter in terms like this: “Unfortunately when Ian went up to talk to him the author told Ian to get lost.” And this: “Burroughs probably was tired and bored with the concerts and when Ian went up to talk with him the author told Ian to get lost. Ian got lost immediately, not a little hurt by the rebuff.” Chris Ott’s book Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures repeats the story, and Mark Johnson’s book An Ideal for Living asserts that Burroughs refused to speak to Curtis.

To anyone familiar with Burroughs, the thought of him telling a fan to get lost is perplexing. Burroughs tended to be unfailingly courteous, even a touch “old world” in his manners. Typically he was generous with fans and admirers, particularly with young men as handsome as Ian Curtis. What could have prompted such an exchange? Was Curtis insulting? Burroughs in a bad mood? Were there mitigating circumstances?

Find out in William S. Burroughs and Joy Division (Reality Studio)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Ian Curtis walking tour
03:09 am


Ian Curtis


In a fairly ghoulish move that’s sure to attract attention, Manchester now has a walking tour to the sites where the late Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis lived.

“It is unlikely to be the most lighthearted walking tour on offer this summer. But one taking in the places that helped shape lives of Joy Division and their frontman Ian Curtis is expected to attract hundreds of fans of the influential band to Macclesfield, the singer’s home town, this year.

A key stop will be 77 Barton Street where Curtis lived with his wife, Debbie, wrote many of his songs and, at 23, killed himself exactly 30 years ago tomorrow. The walk will continue to the town crematorium where a memorial –bearing the words of the song Love Will Tear Us Apart – has become a shrine for fans around the world”

(Via Feasting on Roadkill)

Posted by Jason Louv | Leave a comment