To chance upon an allusion to “Love Will Tear Us Apart” today was unexpected, and the encounter threw me back forcibly to the time when that number was new; it struck me, but not for the first time, that this song is one of those capable of evoking an entire period even decades later. Then, nearly automatically, I started to hum that other old hit, New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle,” which is even more evocative of the moment in which it first appeared and circulated –
Every time I think of you
I feel shot right through
with a bolt of blue
– for this was a song which, back in 1986 and 1987, in a city like New York (and could things have been so different in London?), with so many “people in trouble” or in worse states, struck a chord with a lot of those who’d been hard hit, by virtue of its tense music and lyrics, and then, by this sign that their condition was shared, consoled them in some manner. And, to recall how often it was played during those years, the consolation it could bring was understood and appreciated.
Then it occurred to me to draw up a short playlist featuring a few of the best covers that have been done of this song (there have been many) – and it practically assembled itself. So here are five different versions (or four and one mashup) by, in order, a singer in Oslo, Jonas McDonnell, a Montréal band, Casino, the French cover group Nouvelle Vague, the Filipino-American band The Speaks, and a group in Los Angeles, The New Limb.