"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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  • +19
    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
  • +10
    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
  • +7
    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
    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
  • +5
    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
  • +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
  • +3
    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
  • +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
  • +3
    General CommentI think it's about trying communicate to people and them not understanding.
    IanSchultzon August 09, 2009   Link

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