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Thursday, 6 August 2020

Joy Division? I've Earned That Teeshirt...

Someone, somewhere on fb said yesterday, "you know people who wear Joy Division teeshirts have never listened to Joy Division."

I had to let that person know that I knew every JD musical release intimately, and have done, since 1980/81. 
I know a lot of Ramones, and enjoy the Ramones, but have never identified with them enough to buy the trendy teeshirt.

It felt quite personal, this slight, as I was sitting wearing one of my two Joy Division teeshirts when I read it (and have been saving people from Covid-19 by wearing my Unknown Pleasures mask, which I thought was more witty than many will ever realise). 

Its the second time in recent years I've felt uncomfortable in a JD teeshirt... The previous time was when the recent, awful Spielberg nonsense had a main character in one on the big screen. I knew that JD had reached that iconic, Primark line moment. JD was no longer the cult following, alternative icon it was when I was cutting about without a care in the world (nah. A jd fan ALWAYS was care worn...). 
I've had a JD teeshirt of one sort or another, since the mid eighties. In the very early eighties, I painted my own. I was never a "bands" or any messaging teeshirt kind of person, though I had a few political (green messaging, pre-green party), daft teeshirts (I remember a Daffy Duck one) and my JD teeshirt. I wore a lot of proper shirts, though, in the early eighties. I was quite well dressed. Fashionable at times. Outlandish in that eighties way, at other times. That changed when I left work in the early nineties to go to uni, and embraced the scruffy, crustyish clothing of that time, because of lack of income more than anything. 
In the 2000's I took to socialist and left anarchist  political message teeshirts. Nowadays my teeshirts aren't political. I'm wearing a Basquiat vs Warhol one today. Anyway, that's not what I wanted to say here. What I wanted to say was that in the early eighties I loved Joy Division and New Order for a number of reasons.

--Music, absolutely... I had never heard anything so layered, so atmospheric, so descriptive, in my young life. And New Order were brilliant for dancing around my bedroom to, like nothing else I listened to.
--Better still, none of my friends "got" Joy Division. My girlfriends all through the eighties , hated JD, with the exception of two; one an art student and another who preferred The Cure... One girlfriend graffittied a tape I'd transferred my vinyl to with "Boring!" "Depressing!" etc, And my mates, with the exception of three I can think of, thought JD were awful. I persuaded one mate to go to a New Order concert , and that changed his mind about them, and another Girlfriend bought tickets for us to see them in Wembley Arena, though I dont remember what she thought of them. 
--The image that went with JD and early NO was superb. We fans wore long coats, and all black, though we were def not Goths. It was deeper than that. We were wearing all of the cares of the modern world in our black eighties beatnik non-fashion and carefully coiffed messy gelled hair.
Pretentious, crumbling post- industrial Johnny Cash's. 

--And importantly, JD were anti capitalist, in a way. The thing about them was, they _made_ themselves inaccessible... They were so contrary to what pop/rock stardom was supposed to be... So it seemed (though I've learned there were tensions over all of this in the band). They didnt make videos unless it was just them playing live (this changed, to my disapointment in the mid eighties... "sell out" was a thing we really didn't want our intellectually important bands to do), nor did they add the name of the group or album to the covers. And as New Order, they famously made losses on their biggest selling single, Blue Monday because of how elaborate the tools were to cut the cover.
I have never wore clothes "labels." In the eighties, we  saw that as selling out. Cheap. Watching that change in the nineties was really odd. Teenagers and footballers and sports people becoming billboards. I still think labels and huge logos on clothes are awful... And when I bought a pair of Vans (black) in a sale a few years back, I made a point in school about labels not defining us, and to the horror of my class, cut off the Van labels. There then followed a debate as to whether they were still Vans, if I was now wearing Vans or were they just a pair of deck shoes etc..?
I dont mind wearing some statements of who I am... Bands , art, and pretentious statements from Paris 1968, Herbie the VW, Buzz Aldrin, Yuri Gargarin,  John Lennon, The Associates (a long sleeved shirt I designed myself), The Velvet Underground, Echo and the Bunnymen ... amongst others, are things I enjoy and cover my torso with. I'll never be a corporate billboard .. But I think the corporations should feel a tiny bit relieved about that.
This list of my acceptable, wearable printed things will change. I think I might always have a JD tee, though. 

I seem to have lost a few of my JD and New Order Vinyl over the years (lent out, left behind in moves etc) and toy with the idea of re-buying. But there is something about how commercial the new releasing of that material is, that puts me off. 

I have memories wrapped up in Joy Division tracks, image, books (the first of which I bought in Virgin Record shop, in London circa 1982, and is little more than photocopies of old newspaper cuttings, which I read inside and out, over and over during the eighties - band history was important... Though more life events than the techy stuff people seem to go for nowadays) and sleeve art. I grew into an adult with Joy Division and New Order. I dont listen to them every day, or week for that matter... Sometimes they arent included on playlists. But they are there . And I sometimes fatten up and over indulge in all they have recorded. I have favourite tracks, but thats neither here nor there ... As that changes sometimes. 

 So... Teenagers and young people... I might be a sad old, droning fifty-something man for many reasons (not least for the fact I still wear teeshirts), but I feel I wear a Joy Division teeshirt legitimately.

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