Tag Archives: Love Will Tear Us Apart

Bowie Collaborations: “Wake Up” With Arcade Fire

Back in 2005, Arcade Fire was your favorite artist’s favorite new band.  U2 regularly played “Wake Up” as the song they walked on the stage to during their Vertigo Tour.  Not only did they also open for U2 as the tour progressed, they also came on stage with the band to play Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart”.   David Bowie regularly talked Arcade Fire up as his favorite new band, and Funeral’s sound owed a lot to The Thin White Duke.

Songs such as “Neighbor Hood # 1” and “Rebellion (Lies)” reminded me structurally of “Heroes” when I first heard them.  All of those songs start out slow, and slowly build into a crescendo – but there’s never a specific moment when you can pinpoint exactly where this takes place. The songs take you for a ride, and before you’ve even realized it you’ve hit 90 mph.

It’s little wonder then that Arcade Fire would actually team up with Arcade Fire for a few songs.  At the Fashion Rocks show in 2005, Bowie and Arcade Fire performed two Bowie classics (“Five Years & “Life on Mars?”) along with Arcade Fire’s de facto anthem, “Wake Up”.

While it’s clear that “Wake Up” is Arcade Fire’s song, Bowie isn’t just guesting on this version.  The way he takes on the chorus, and much of the lead vocals suggests that he is taking this song back from Arcade Fire, and making it his own.  The version of the other songs aren’t nearly as energetic – Arcade Fire plays the songs well – but Bowie seems to really take on “Arcade Fire”.  It’s almost as if he was suggesting that even Bowie imitators can’t out-due the real thing, even with original songs.

Bowie & Arcade Fire: “Wake Up”



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Love Will Tear Us Apart

I like Joy Division, but like the Smiths I can only listen to them so much at one time.  That being said, I can never get enough of “Love Will Tear Us Apart”.  It’s one of the defining songs of post-punk and one of the best rock songs ever.  The song begins with a hypnotic bass-line that quickly propels the song along held down by mechanic drumming and swirling synthesizers as Ian Curtis sings in a cold, distant voice.  Yet, for his cool and removed demeanor, singer Ian Curtis is at his most exposed.  “As desperation takes hold,” Curtis sings, “Why is that something so good?  Just can’t function no more?”  Released just a month before Curtis’ suicide, it’s hard not to look at this song as a suicide note written to music.

This is the sound of a man at the end of his rope.  He knows that despite his best attempts, even love (believed by many to be the most powerful force in the world) can no longer keep him at bay.  It is in fact the very thing that is driving him away from the person he wants to be, and the woman he wants to be with.  And even sadder, is the fact that this has happened before.  During the chorus Curtis sings “Love, love will tear us apart.”  And then repeats the same words ending the phrase this time with “again”.    Any attempt of reconcile is thrown out the door.

Like Elliot Smith, it’s a shame that Ian Curtis was such a tortured soul who created such great music.


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