"Colony" as written by Ian Kevin Curtis, Peter Hook, Stephen Paul David Morris and Bernard Sumner....
A cry for help, a hint of anesthesia,
The sound from broken homes,
We used to always meet here.
As he lays asleep, she takes him in her arms,
Some things I have to do, but I don't mean you harm.

A worried parent's glance, a kiss, a last goodbye,
Hands him the bag she packed, the tears she tries to hide,
A cruel wind that blows down to our lunacy
And leaves him standing cold here in this colony.

I can't see why all these confrontations,
I can't see why all these dislocations,
No family life, this makes me feel uneasy,
Stood alone here in this colony.
In this colony, in this colony, in this colony, in this colony.

Dear God in his wisdom took you by the hand,
God in his wisdom made you understand.
God in his wisdom took you by the hand,
God in his wisdom made you understand.

God in his wisdom took you by the hand,
God in his wisdom made you understand.
God in his wisdom took you by the hand,
God in his wisdom made you understand.
In this colony, in this colony, in this colony, in this colony.


Lyrics submitted by typo

"Colony" as written by Ian Kevin Curtis Bernard Sumner

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Colony song meanings
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  • +4
    General Commentthere's another version of the lyrics:

    a cry for help, a hint of anesthesia
    the sound from broken homes, we used to always meet here
    i watched all hell break loose, confined and unprepared
    is this what life's about, is this the dream we share?

    can you help me, can you spare some time?
    no apologies for all these thoughts of mine
    i hope to find some friends to maybe lead astray
    to wake his daughter's sleep, to turn her father gray


    thebodiesobtainedon October 15, 2007   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI have read, I believe in "Time Travel" by Jon Savage,(i.e. a primary source) that the title comes from the short story by Kafka, "In the Penal Colony". This would make sense to me, as that tale has a similar sense of detatched horror and analysis of it, to "Atrocity Exhibition" by Ballard.

    I know that lots of New Order songs have titles that have nothing obvious to do with the lyrics or sentiments of the song, and are taken from books and films. Perhaps this is just an earlier example.

    I agree that the song is about his life/marriage, considering what we know from "touching from a distance" and "control".

    Courtney Love has claimed she lost her virginity while it was playing.

    matthewsheffieldon July 24, 2009   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI always thought it was about leaving home perhaps to attend an broding school which seemed like a new 'colony' which is why at the end the lines "God in his wisdom made you understand
    God in his wisdom took you by the hand" are repeated to mimic a chorus of children repeating at the command of a teacher.
    moe17on February 03, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentGod I loved this band. I remember listening to "closer" over and over again on my portable radio cassette player. In those days, with no internet, we used to try and work out the lyrics by playing a line at a time and rewinding maybe 20 times for each line, sometimes even for just one word! I used to think this song was about Ian being taken to some kind of asylum by his mother.
    sorbuson February 20, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General CommentPersonally, I think 'Closer' as a whole album tells a concept story of Ian Curtis's own death. With side two being the aftermath and side one being the leadup, ending at "A Means to An End", followed by "Heart and Soul" where he kills himself.
    Colony has a place in this story. Analysis wise, I'm pretty sure the song has nothing to do with Africa or Nazis, though Ian may have used them symbolically to make a point out his own life. Verse by verse:

    "A cry for help, a hint of anesthesia,
    The sound from broken homes,
    We used to always meet here.
    As he lays asleep, she takes him in her arms,
    Some things I have to do, but I don't mean you harm."

    This verse describes the falling apart of the relationship between Ian and Debbie, who he probably knew would leave him. Some things she had to do but doesn't mean him harm.

    "A worried parent's glance, a kiss, a last goodbye,
    Hands him the bag she packed, the tears she tries to hide,
    A cruel wind that blows down to our lunacy
    And leaves him standing cold here in this colony."

    She's packing her bags to leave him but doesn't really want to deep down. When she finally does, she leaves him isolated in the taxing life of Joy Division. The "colony" that is his other, second life. Peter Hook described Joy Division as being almost a second life to Ian. There was the "domestic" Ian Curtis and the "rock star" Ian Curtis. Now he is confined to nothing but this colony.

    "I can't see why all these confrontations,
    I can't see why all these dislocations,
    No family life, this makes me feel uneasy,
    Stood alone here in this colony.
    In this colony, in this colony, in this colony, in this colony."

    No family life -- it sums up what I just said about him being left alone with Joy Division.

    "
    Dear God in his wisdom took you by the hand,
    God in his wisdom made you understand.
    God in his wisdom took you by the hand,
    God in his wisdom made you understand."

    Almost as though he is blaming her and sarcastically saying "you understood why you had to leave me to this".

    It's a super fucking dark song. It's Ian crying out that he's been abandoned and really begins the process of him deciding to kill himself. Which is why "A Means to An End" (the divorce on the album), is followed by Side 2's "Post-Death Ian Curtis".

    Guy was a genius the way he ordered this album to tell a story.
    VinceMcConnellon April 03, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General Commentonce you step in a relationship with no visible and stable future you get all flooded with things, you are at family dinner with your wife and everyone is doing something while you, always unstable for this kind of crowded environment just stand there,like the time has stopped for you and not others, deep down you know that you are cold and alone still and will be for much of the rest of your life because of your adversity, its like you are pinned to the ground... And then when your wife taps on your shoulder you realize what have you been doing, that creep affliction of yours never gets contagious so you apologize and it just starts all over again.
    I think it happened to Ian quite a lot,given to his condition as an epileptic and his depression (the amplified feelings) and his unstable relationship with both the band and his wife, i think he would just stand there stare at people for a while and with that he would have been the one on the outside of his dark dome,looking in.
    I think it hints in various of things Ian was particularly going through at the time,family/relationships/politics etc...
    .
    P.s. I also think it is "the sound of broken BONES" (not homes)

    Just an idea!
    nava115370on March 10, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentA verry cool and dry sounded song.. I love it
    Thommeson October 02, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGreat song. The verion recorded during the peel sessions has different lyrics. Very sad.
    Bliss Freakon December 15, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI could swear this song is about suburbia, but I'm not really sure if the idea of the suburbs has the same social/psychological connotations to the English that it does to Americans. Good song though; that guitar riff sounds almost gleeful in its off-kilterness.
    owennnnnnnnnnon January 19, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI always thought it was about the political situation in Northern Ireland at the time. I know Ian was very interested in that
    Yer_Maon August 10, 2006   Link

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