"Atmosphere" as written by Ian Kevin Curtis, Peter Hook, Stephen Paul David Morris and Bernard Sumner....
Walk in silence
Don't walk away, in silence
See the danger
Always danger

Endless talking
Life rebuilding
Don't walk away

Walk in silence
Don't turn away, in silence
Your confusion
My illusion

Worn like a mask of self-hate
Confronts and then dies
Don't walk away

People like you find it easy
Naked to see
Walking on air
Hunting by the rivers, through the streets, every corner

Abandoned too soon
Set down with due care
Don't walk away in silence
Don't walk away


Lyrics submitted by typo

"Atmosphere" as written by Ian Kevin Curtis Bernard Sumner

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Atmosphere song meanings
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  • +15
    My InterpretationTo me, this is about depression and how hard it is to carry on normally when depressed. Especially when those around you don't understand that depression is more than just "a case of the blues" or an extended bad mood. It is a medical problem, one that no one wants to have--which is another misconception, that depressed people like to wallow in their misery.

    Many seem confused over "Walk in silence/Don't walk away, in silence" like it's some sort of contradiction. Take it a line at a time...walk in silence, BUT don't walk away in silence. In other words, be easy with me, give me space, etc., but don't leave me all alone either.
    leamancon February 21, 2012   Link
  • +6
    General Commentwhen looking at the lyrics of atmosphere and many of their songs, its important to look at it from ians point of view, one of self-hate (probably because of his epilepsy), isolation and confusion.

    I think quite simply, this song is to those who misunderstood him, i have a feeling ian was talkative, and confrontative to the ones who were closest to him. People often make irrational attacks on the ones they love or truly care about, it happens because we are vulnerable and scared.

    "My illusion, worn like a mask of self-hate, confronts and then dies". He's saying, dont leave me here by myself, its all an act, im really not as tough as a make myself out to be, and the only reason i do it to this extent, is because i dont find it as easy as people like you (who don't have see things the way i do). im confused and vulnerable, dont leave until you see that part of me. "every corner abandoned too soon". The people that misundestood (or were confused by) his behaviour, often misunderstood a lot more than just him, they never read between the lines. So he's just asking them, to stick by him, "don't walk away, don't walk awaaaay, in silence".

    So i agree with blithewater but I just thought I'd add more.
    Schr4nzon May 25, 2004   Link
  • +5
    General CommentIt is pissing me off that all you people who post comments about Ian Curtis' lyrics believe that it is centered around his epilepsy and his suicidal tendancies.

    You guys are judging him for two things that made him "famous."

    He doesn't write about his suicidal tendencies, it's his way of thinking that led him to suicide. He saw things in a different light, the "cup half-empty perspective."

    The only song that I can think of that he would talk about epilepsy (and he isn't even talking about his own, is "She's Lost Control," where he feels empathy with this chick with his particular medical issue).

    What do I think this song is about?

    One of Ian's friends once said that Ian's face always had a look that said, "get away from me." The important line to read is: "Your confusion, my illusion, worn like a mask of self-hate, confronts and then dies," which Schr4nz explained pretty well.

    It's all about the tough-guy, killer fascade that we develop to keep people away, but at the same time, all we really want is company.
    toughguybambinoon January 18, 2005   Link
  • +5
    Song MeaningThe song is about Ian Curtis' failing marriage. Atmosphere was released in 1980, the same year Love Will Tear us Apart was released. 1980 was also the same year Ian committed suicide. What you have with his songs around 1980 are Ian's mixed emotions regarding his marriage. In a nutshell Atmosphere is about Ian's regrets and deep desire to be reconciled unto his wife despite her unwillingness.

    His wife was in the process of leaving him ("walk in silence").

    He had regret for his affair and wanted to reconcile with his wife ("don't walk away in silence").

    He saw that they were both hurting ("see the danger, always danger").

    His efforts to talk with his wife were unsuccessful, and she was going to start her life over without him, so he pleaded her to stay. ("endless talking, life rebuilding, don't walk away").

    Ian's wife was confused about what to do with him, and it's after this that he finally realizes the severity of his actions and regrets what he did ("Your confusion, my illusion").

    Ian's affair caused his marriage to fail. He caused his own problem and he hated himself for it, and wanted to die ("Worn like a mask of self-hate, confronts and then dies").

    The last verses are a stab at his wife for not understanding him. He had issues that came through a lifetime of self-hatred. (People like you find it easy, naked to see. Walking on air, hunting by rivers, through the streets every corner abandoned to soon. Set down with due care).

    The first part of the song was pretty much an apology and plea for his wife to stay because he loved her. Then with the ending verses he shows how unhappy he is with his wife and life in general. Notice how after he reveals his suicidal idealization ("confronts and then dies") he takes a jab at his wife almost like it's all her and everybody else fault he feels that way.

    Ian brought about his own downfall. He had an affair, and it was because of the affair he committed suicide. The lesson to be learned is make good choices and don't be your own downfall.
    bomberben1on January 31, 2013   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI remember in high school I had a soul devouring crush on a girl. She appeared heavenly to me. The song is about someone who is alone yet talkative. To walk in silence is to learn to temper the ceaseless divulgence of philosophies and ideas. To not walk away in silence is not to forget everyone and go into isolation, to not have any friends... again. The person is about people who are pure and troubled. Of course there is more to the song than that, but I have to maintain some amount of silence, don't I?
    Blithewateron May 29, 2002   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI have never been into Joy Division, but recently one of my good friends took his own life and they were his favorite band, and he requested that this song be played at his funeral. I am not sure the meaning or the events surrounding Ian Curtis' or my friend's death, but I can't help but look at a few lines and making my own meanings out of them.. "People like you find it easy," "Your confusion, my illusion, worn like a mask of self-hate," and most importantly.. "Don't walk away in silence." I wish these people wouldn't walk away in silence..
    morningspideron February 01, 2005   Link
  • +3
    General CommentSorry, I forgot to say that those are the lyrics to Chance, which is an earlier version of Atmosphere.
    thebodiesobtainedon February 22, 2008   Link
  • +3
    General CommentTo me, this is someone who has trouble expressing themselves and is also overwhelmed by constant noise of the world. He wants this person to stay and be with him, to comfort him, but quietly, without needing to talk. Just being there, and understanding without words. Walking in silence, but not walking AWAY in silence needn't be a contradiction.
    smallgirlon June 24, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentWalk in silence
    Walk away in silence
    See the danger
    Always danger
    Endless talking
    Life rebuilding
    Don't walk away
    Face the danger

    Walk in silence
    Don't walk away in silence
    See the danger
    Always danger
    Rules are broken
    False emotions
    Don't walk away

    People like you find it easy
    Always in tune
    Walking on air
    They're hunting in packs
    By the rivers, through the streets
    It may happen soon
    Then maybe you'll care
    Walk away
    Walk away from danger

    I'm, I'm just crossing the line
    Just crossing the line
    Trying to get back, back where I was
    See me crossing the line
    Don't walk away...

    I think the suicide angle is more obvious with these lyrics.
    thebodiesobtainedon February 22, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General Comment"Walk in silence" echoes of the desderita "go placidly amidst the noise and haste and remember the peace there is ........". A call or order to remind us that some of need that time for personal refletion-calm, and that if some of us have isolation forced upon us or have become programmed to enjoy then respect our need for it. if you havent experienced it then you should try it and experience it.
    "D'ont walk away, in silence". Total rejection, you easily picture someone being walked away from perhaps a hint of disgust or verbal communication broken down. The loner is never seen as part of the coesive mix that guaratees success in the group, to attach yourself to the loner is to distinguish yourself from the group. People always walk away if you are different, will you bring them down to as oppossed to the comfort in the mob.
    "see the danger Always danger". Able to bring a stream of thought to its linear end, clouded by your own experience, in this case trapped in a negative cycle,fear paramount.
    "Endless talking, life rebuilding" The constant battle to solve the problem through addressing it, with some progress being made, part solutions found giving encouragement.The euphoria of a false-dawn, the joy of sharing with another-others who understand and help to find solutions. What if that freind who has helped you lay some blocks walks away.
    "your confusion my illusion" the grandious aloofness of the misunderstood genius basking in the fact that they are not understood.
    "worn like a mask of self hate" did he enjoy being percieved as this tortured soul, did he play it up, what was his true source of pain, did he really know and not want to face up to some darker demon he met but refused to confront, easier to hide where others can see as a simple hiding place.
    "confronts and then dies" balances with life rebuilding, face the problem, if solve your stronger for it. Someone strong enough to face up to you and not let you indulge yourself but then they leave.
    "people like you find it easy" he is setting himself apart angry at the fact that he is not some. Life is complex, not just simple bodies to be looked at face value, or life some simple current that we row in behind rudderless.
    "hunting by the rivers" "hunting" suggests a viscousness, a simple image of the tranquill fisherman on the side of a river is clouded and made complex by his anger at not being able to do it himself and anger that these people who just supposedly let life drift by without having to engage in answering the difficult questions he posed for himself. they are everywhere.
    "everycorner" what is around the corner? Danger more danger?
    "abandoned to soon" people have walked away, from him and from their attempts to understand lifes difficulties, unconfronted by him and by themselves. The image of a child abandoned by their parents at a young age comes to mind before they are equiped to deal with lifes issues
    "set down with due care" like at an airport with a set down only lane, no stoping to say proper goodbye but i get a hint of sarcasm here, people are pretending to understand,pretending to care whereas in fact they may be walking away, in their minds the cannot wait to get away as quickly as they can.
    One last thing...Saddness depression etc are social constructs, that what appears to be 'sad(-)' songs bring so much 'pleasure(+)' proves the point. Perhaps one point is that our struggle for acceptance by others and to belong will only really be solved when we accept ourselves warts and all,and that in the meantime if someone does not like our warts then thats not their fault either....Let them walk away-but do not push.............A pity his genius was so often accompanied by pain.....
    Niallghuison June 26, 2010   Link

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