"Disorder" as written by Ian Kevin Curtis, Peter Hook, Stephen Paul David Morris and Bernard Sumner....
I've been waiting for a guide to come and take me by the hand,
Could these sensations make me feel the pleasures of a normal man?
These sensations barely interest me for another day,
I've got the spirit, lose the feeling, take the shock away.

It's getting faster, moving faster now, it's getting out of hand,
On the tenth floor, down the back stairs, it's a no man's land,
Lights are flashing, cars are crashing, getting frequent now,
I've got the spirit, lose the feeling, let it out somehow.

What means to you, what means to me, and we will meet again,
I'm watching you, I'm watching her, I'll take no pity from you friends,
Who is right, who can tell, and who gives a damn right now,
Until the spirit new sensation takes hold, then you know,
Until the spirit new sensation takes hold, then you know,
Until the spirit new sensation takes hold, then you know,
I've got the spirit, but lose the feeling,
I've got the spirit, but lose the feeling,
Feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling.

Lyrics submitted by cprompt, edited by smuckersje, heraldchild

"Disorder" as written by Ian Kevin Curtis Bernard Sumner

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Disorder song meanings
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  • +9
    General CommentI'll be a contrarian and go on record as saying that this song may or may not actually be exclusively about Ian's epilepsy. Yes, Ian suffered from epilepsy. Yes, he wrote about it (most famously in "She's Lost Control"). To me, this song is about more than having an epileptic seizure and I think there's been too much focus on that aspect of it in the comments so far. But as Ian sang, "Who is right, who can tell, and who gives a damn right now?" :-)

    For me, the central line is having the spirit but losing the feeling. This is the struggle of an artist, an unhinged and disconnected artist: how to take pleasure from the things around him, how to use them to make and create, instead of growing bored and detached from them and living solely inside his own head; the protagonist has an artist's spirit but he can't live in the normal world, he can't take the banality of day to day existence as it wears him down and dillutes his artistic purity (spirit) and makes him lose his feeling (FEELING FEELING FEELING!). But here's the rub and the paradox of the great artist: without being grounded in the tangible and the real at all, he cannot fulfill the role of the artist as social commentator, trickster, or priest.

    And perhaps here is where the epilepsy comes back in: Dostoyevsky also suffered from it and described it as a religious experience but it had similar effects on him, causing episodes of manic depression, the ability to see things in a high state of mania and, for a time, with piercing clarity and then at the next moment losing that feeling completely and suffering from debilitating depression; where everything becomes banal: a chore, a list, and, yes, even a news report, to go back to danohuiginn's previous comment.

    Great song.
    jvwon March 25, 2007   Link
  • +7
    General CommentIt is rare for such deliberately vague lyrics to create such a potent mental image but Disorder is one song that pulls it off.
    I've always seen this song showing the protagonist as trapped in a confined apartment (hence the reference to the back stairs and 10th floor) as the world disintegrates around him. The noise of cars crashing, the visual effect of the flashing lights of the police or burglar alarms gives it a riotous air which is perfectly juxtaposed by the urgency of the music and Curtis's trademark monotone, 'brink of sanity' voice.
    I can see why comparisons between this song and his epilepsy have been drawn but for me this song represents the growing need to do something to prevent the world around you from changing. The end of the song builds as the protagonist tries desperately to turn these thoughts of making a stand into the action of doing so.
    On a par with New Dawn Fades this is my favourite song on Unknown Pleasures.
    mozza_fanon August 26, 2005   Link
  • +6
    General CommentI think it's simply about depression. There's parts of the song where there's a lot of activity, it's all a blur, and not joyous activity but a confusing, unfulling, and contributing to a sense of purposelessness. I love the image of a "guide" showing someone who feels depressed and disconnected coming - a guardian angel but at the same time just someone - and showing them how to experience simple pleasures.

    The part about "I'm watching you, I'm watching her, I take no pity from your friends" remind me of someone sitting awkwardly with a group of people at a bar, watching people but not interacting... not taking pity from the others who recognize how alone the person is feeling.

    Just my interpretation...
    zepkid5678on February 03, 2013   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI heard this song at a party or something a while ago, and i've looked for the song ever since, then some weeks ago i bought the Unkown Pleasures-album, I got so excited when I heard that this was the first track I wanted to jump around in my room and scream.
    Proddieon April 12, 2004   Link
  • +4
    General Commenti registered just to comment on this song. the tone of it just gives you goosebumps...its such a great song thats so feel good or semi-depressing depending on your mood. something you can be intimate with your partner to or just scream and hit the walls.
    brownstruggleon August 14, 2005   Link
  • +4
    General CommentIn a literary sense, this song reminds me of Dante's "Inferno." Especially with the opening line, "I've been waiting for a guide to come and take me by the hand." With the modernist imagery, though, (tenth floor, back stairs, cars...) Ian ties us into the picture. We can relate our distress and anxiety and admit that we've been waiting for our personal Virgo to come and take us by the hand. It's beautiful. I've got the spirit, lose the feeling.
    jellyfiskon August 08, 2008   Link
  • +3
    General Commentdanohuiginn, stop listening to joy division, falloutboy might be what you're looking for.
    rboy629on May 19, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General Commentthe guy who said his voice sounds boring is entitled to his opinion, but in my opinion is so mistaken. his vocals through the song sound so intense, and he might have the most technically brilliant voice ever, but in my opinion, hes got one of the most beautiful. So few singers have this amount of passion in their voice nowadays, the only two i can think of off the top of my head are Conor Oberst and Sam Herlihy.

    This is one of my favourite songs by Joy Division, i love the intro and the opening line. Im considering gettting it tatooed onto my wrist, bit cliche, but i just think its such a great line, especially when he sings it.
    alex1990on June 15, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General Commentwell, impact, it's my favourite as well.... and I've been thinking the same for days.

    Any comment, btw, is useless... get what you want out of it. Music is one of the few things I think I really own, and joy division are in the most hidden and safe part of "my mind's treasure" (what a shitty poet I am).
    Just to give a hint to who just has Unknown Pleasures on cd...
    the lp doesn't divide tracks in side A or side B, but
    Inside (disorder;day of the lords;candidate;insight;new dawn fades)
    Outside (she's lost control;shadowplay;wilderness;interzone;i remember nothing).
    not to teach anyone, just to let you get something slightly different about it...
    monstersexiston August 21, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI always thought that it was about someone falling down from a 10 storey building.
    "It's getting faster, moving faster now, it's getting out of hand
    On the tenth floor,"

    "Lights are flashing, cars are crashing, getting frequent now" can refer to his fall when he sees the lights of the cars getting nearer at a fastest speed.

    "down the back stairs, it's a no man's land" means that he is dead now, lying on the street and waiting for an angel or a devil to take him "by the hand" to bring him to heaven or hell."it's a no man's land" He still doesn't know as he wonders if suicide is right "Who is right, who can tell, and who gives a damn right now? " but the ethical question doesn't matter anymore. "Until the spirit, new sensation takes hold - then you know" Anyway he will know soon.

    "I've got the spirit, lose the feeling, let it out somehow " Now he's dead, his body doesn't feel anything anymore. Only his spirit is alive.

    It is definitely a suicide. It seems to be a man who got a disorder which makes him feel a bit different from the other people he knows. Thus it feels that only death can make him feel "the pleasures of a normal man". As dead men are all the same at last.
    The disorder can be epilepsy or even homosexuality.
    tradittoreon December 02, 2008   Link

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