Joy Divison’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” was written in August 1979, and debuted when the band supported Buzzcocks on their UK tour in September and October 1979. It is one of the few songs in which singer Ian Curtis played guitar (albeit somewhat minimally), which you obviously won’t hear here. The lyrics ostensibly reflect the problems in Ian Curtis’s marriage to Deborah Curtis, as well as his general frame of mind in the time leading up to his suicide in May 1980. The title is an ironic reference to “Love Will Keep Us Together”. Deborah Curtis had the phrase “Love Will Tear Us Apart” inscribed on Ian Curtis’s memorial stone.
The song was first released in June 1980 and became the band’s first chart hit, reaching number 13 in the UK Single Charts. Later that summer, “Love Will Tear Us Apart” peaked at number 42 on the American disco/dance charts. It also debuted at number 1 in New Zealand in June 1981. The band postponed their US tour after his death, performed a few short sets as The No-Names, then finally renamed the group as New Order. “Love Will Tear Us Apart” was re-released in 1983 and reached number 19 on the UK charts and re-appeared at number 3 in New Zealand during March 1984. In 1985 the 7″ single was released in Poland by Tonpress in different sleeve under license from Factory and sold over 20000 copies. In November 1988, it made one more Top 40 appearance in New Zealand, peaking at number 39. “Love Will Tear Us Apart” was first recorded for a John Peel session in November 1979, then re-recorded in January 1980 and March 1980.