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Joy Division’s “She’s Lost Control”

Ian Curtis, Joy Division's main vocalist, worked as an Assistant Disablement Resettlement Officer at a Job Center in Macclesfield, Cheshire, where he assisted individuals with disabilities. One day, Curtis observed that one of his clients and acquaintances, a woman with epilepsy, had ceased coming to her appointments. He soon learned she'd passed away after having a seizure in her sleep, and as someone who was suffering with epilepsy symptoms himself, he was so inspired by her unfortunate situation that he wrote a new song titled “She's Lost Control”.

“And she showed up all the errors and mistakes / And said, "I've lost control again" / But she expressed herself in many different ways / Until she lost control again / And walked upon the edge of no escape / And laughed, "I've lost control"”

When the band began recording their debut album, Unknown Pleasures (1979), Curtis developed symptoms of epilepsy himself. As the band made the long journey to London for their debut concert on December 27, 1978, Curtis began suffering from what turned out to be a seizure. He was taken to the hospital and discovered that he was experiencing epilepsy.

She's Lost Control became an iconic song for Joy Division, becoming one of the band's more popular songs from their first album. It’s mesmerizing synth beat adds an almost nauseating dimension to the lyrics, which further displays anguish and panic. Curtis became known for his frantic dancing while performing the song, which gave the image of a man literally acting out of control. When Curtis became more ill, Joy Division's concerts would start with his frantic dancing and end with an actual epilepsy attack.

“A lot of people think he was on drugs. He wasn’t on any drugs at all. That was just him losing himself in the music” - Bandmate of Curtis

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