Endless Loop: Atmosphere

joydivisionHave you ever had one of those songs that gets stuck in your head for days…weeks…years? Sure you have. These are the songs that always make the cut. The songs on repeat. We all have them. I have a ton. Welcome back to Endless Loop.

“Atmosphere” by Joy Division

Every now and then, I find myself caught up in music fan ephemera and hypotheticals.  Top Fives, desert-island-discs, ultimate supergroups, that sort of thing.  It’s okay, it happens to the best of us.  Lately, I’ve been dwelling on the notion of desert-island-discographies, wherein you get to take the complete works of five different artists with you to your imaginary desert island.  And you get everything too: every album, every single, every B-side, rarity, live recording, collaboration, demo, bootleg, and so on.  The whole enchilada or whatever.  Who would you choose?  Who would I choose for that matter?

I’ve actually given this a lot of thought.  (I get bored sometimes.)  For me, David Bowie and Ennio Morricone are basically shoo-ins.  After that, it gets a little more difficult.  I’m pretty sure Nirvana would get a nod, and I go back and forth on both Radiohead and Depeche Mode, but I feel I would be doing myself a grave disservice to exclude Joy Division.  You gotta have Joy Division, even if their catalog isn’t quite as extensive as the Thin White Duke’s or the Maestro’s.  Maybe we could throw in New Order too to pad things up some.  That sounds good.

Either way, I just don’t think I could do without “Atmosphere.”

Originally released as a single in France, and then later on 12” via Factory for the rest of us after Ian Curtis’s death in 1980, the song feels like watching a sunset in black and white.  There’s a processional motion to it, pagan, not quite funereal, but close.  It’s more celebratory in a very weird way, like transitioning from one phase to another.  Ascending?

A while back, I wrote a short article for this website about picking pop songs to play during our funerals, another hypothetical.  My choice for my own was, is, and always will be “The Big Ship” by Brian Eno, its synth tones washing over mourners like so much transcendent light, and I don’t see that selection changing anytime soon.  That being said, I think given the chance to select a song to play as I actually died, I would happily let “Atmosphere” play me out as I greeted the hereafter.

It’d be one hell of a way to go.

So yeah, Joy Division is on that island.


Thomas H Williams

Thomas H Williams

From a bunker somewhere in Central Texas, Thomas H. Williams spends most of his time with his wife, his two sons, and his increasingly neurotic dog. He listens to a lot of music, drinks a lot of excellent beers, and gets out from time to time. For even more shenanigans, visit heavenisanincubator.blogspot.com.

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