10.02.2015 10:24 AM

Ceremony, and the greatest riffs of all time

This NME list is pretty good. A bit Brit-centric, but pretty good.

The inclusion of ‘Ceremony’ surprised me. It was played the first time by Joy Division, just days before Ian Curtis killed himself. When New Order returned to it, it was a risk, but it paid off. It is – in my humble estimation – one of the greatest songs ever written. As Harold, Chris, Ryan et al. will tell you, it was a big, big deal to me, back in those days.

Here they are playing it in 1981, with Bernard singing like Ian would, but not quite pulling it off. A more raucous version, when they were older, is here. Ian’s, here.

Here it is. Sends me right back, man oh man. Lyrics below.

This is why events unnerve me,
They find it all, a different story,
Notice whom for wheels are turning,
Turn again and turn towards this time,
All she ask’s the strength to hold me,
Then again the same old story,
Word will travel, oh so quickly,
Travel first and lean towards this time.

Oh, I’ll break them down, no mercy shown,
Heaven knows, it’s got to be this time,
Watching her, these things she said,
The times she cried,
Too frail to wake this time.

Oh, I’ll break them down, no mercy shown,
Heaven knows, it’s got to be this time,
Avenues all lined with trees,
Picture me and then you start watching,
Watching forever, forever,
Watching love grow, forever,
Letting me know, forever.


  1. Mike Adamson says:

    One of the greatest songs ever but I’m pretty sure that’s Sumner singing and not Ian Curtis.

  2. Neil says:

    Saw them last year in Vancouver, First time. It was amazing, I had just seen Loverboy playing at the Calgary Stampede Grandstand show a couple days before and the contrast between a band that had become a nostalgia, novelty act and NO was amazing. They were still doing new stuff and it was still creative and ambitious. Fantastic night.

  3. Rene G. says:

    The polished version in the Substance compilation is the better version for sure.
    At least Sumner was himself in that session.

    Don’t forget to the see the version done by Radiohead!

  4. Liam Young says:

    Thanks Warren – enjoyed that!

  5. lou says:

    Caught the last 2 shows by Peter Hook in Vancouver. Awesome, just awesome. Few songs that get in the 1st 15 seconds. Ceremony is among them.

  6. harvey bushell says:

    To not have included Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love in that list is shameful. It should be very near the top as well.

    Of all the ones that are there I’d argue that the most recognizable is Smoke on the Water and if most recognizable is considered the best (maybe yes, maybe no) then it should be right at the top.

    • harvey bushell says:

      Also auspicious by it’s absence is Jethro Tull’s Aqualung (although that may just be my recessive English prog rock gene talking)

  7. TimL says:

    I like the raucous version. Saw them at the Reading Festival in 1998, when they had just got back together and were a last minute addition to the line-up. Mind blowing.
    Garbage was the headliner and had to follow them up. The crowds started to leave and Shirley Manson gave a sarcastic “thanks a LOT, New Order”.

  8. Magoo says:

    Wow, you’re ollllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllld, man.


  9. Eric Weiss says:

    Nobody can pull off Ian Curtis. He was singular, iconic voice. I just got finished reading Unknown Pleasures by Peter Hook. Great read. If you get a chance, check it out.

  10. Derek Pearce says:

    I know New Order is anathema to you, but this is the lead track from the album I have by far listened to most in my life, Substance. Having watched this I now automatically have Everything’s Gone Green (track 2) in my head. Thanks for this.

  11. andrew says:

    The Joy Division version(s) always an underlying feeling of someone pining for something more, while the New Order version(s) have a sense of urgency and sadness.

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