Atrocity Exhibition
Joy Division Lyrics


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Asylums with doors open wide
Where people had paid to see inside
For entertainment they watch his body twist
Behind his eyes he says, "I still exist"

This is the way, step inside
This is the way, step inside
This is the way, step inside
This is the way, step inside

In arenas, he kills for a prize
Wins a minute to add to his life
But the sickness is drowned by cries for more
Pray to God, make it quick, watch him fall

This is the way, step inside
This is the way, step inside
This is the way, step inside
This is the way, step inside

This is the way
This is the way
This is the way
This is the way
This is the way, step inside
This is the way, step inside
This is the way, step inside
This is the way, step inside

You'll see the horrors of a faraway place
Meet the architects of law face to face
See mass murder on a scale you've never seen
And all the ones who try hard to succeed

This is the way, step inside
This is the way, step inside
This is the way, step inside
This is the way, step inside

And I picked on the whims of a thousand or more
Still pursuing the path that's been buried for years
All the dead wood from jungles and cities on fire




Can't replace or relate, can't release or repair
Take my hand and I'll show you what was and will be

Overall Meaning

"Atrocity Exhibition" is a song by Joy Division that appears on their album "Closer." The song speaks of the depravity and destruction of the world, describing asylums as places where people pay to watch others suffer, and arenas where people kill for prizes. The lyrics convey a sense of hopelessness and despair, with references to mass murder and the architects of law, but the singer still clings onto hope of showing someone what was and will be.


The song is believed to have been inspired by the J.G. Ballard novel of the same name, which explores the psychological effects of mass media, celebrity culture, and the Vietnam War on the human psyche. The lyrics suggest that human suffering has become entertainment for others, and that the line between reality and fiction has been blurred.


This song is a prime example of how Joy Division's music has been interpreted in many ways, with different listeners seeing different meanings in their lyrics. Some see the song as a commentary on capitalism and consumerism, while others interpret it as a reflection on the band's own personal struggles with depression and mental health.


Line by Line Meaning

Asylums with doors open wide Where people had paid to see inside For entertainment they watch his body twist Behind his eyes he says, "I still exist"
Mental institutions where the curious pay to view the institutionalized. The patients under scrutiny writhe and suffer uncontrollably in plain sight, yet the outsider only grasps a fraction of the afflicted’s suffering. Despite invisible and unendurable suffering, these patients know and cling to the fact that they exist.


In arenas, he kills for a prize Wins a minute to add to his life But the sickness is drowned by cries for more Pray to God, make it quick, watch him fall
The bearer of an incurable and twisted illness takes lives to win more time for their own. Despite the horrific nature of this illness, the bloodthirsty crowd thirsts for a more intense spectacle with each proceeding death. Hoping for a swift execution and reveling in violence, the horde watches as the executioner crashes to the ground in agony.


You'll see the horrors of a faraway place Meet the architects of law face to face See mass murder on a scale you've never seen And all the ones who try hard to succeed
In a distant, hostile place, you will encounter individuals who create the laws and policies that maintain the status quo, ignoring countless deaths wrought by the same policies. The scale of this slaughter, which exceeds your worst nightmares, is grotesque. Among the aggressors, those who act on behalf of the established order but lack success, are counted.


And I picked on the whims of a thousand or more Still pursuing the path that's been buried for years All the dead wood from jungles and cities on fire Can't replace or relate, can't release or repair Take my hand and I'll show you what was and will be
Lured by the outrage and festering hatred of the masses, the artist blindly followed their judgement, causing societal upheaval. Seeking their old path in spite of it being hidden by years of neglect, the artist discovers the destruction of both urban and jungled landscapes. Amidst the rubble, there is nothing that can compensate for, comprehend, ease, or remedy the unending pain of others. But take the artist's hand and they will reveal the past and future.




Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group
Written by: Bernard Sumner, Ian Kevin Curtis, Peter Hook, Stephen Paul David Morris

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind
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Comments from YouTube:

@Robert-kl2pp

An old man here. This song cuts deeper emotionally now more than it ever did.

@jimmyscutts8082

We could share a drink and step outside... lots of water has passed since this album was cut and nothing has changed in it ferocity.

@deborahpaley21

Can I join? I'm old.@@jimmyscutts8082

@staceyrose5821

Cuts into me like the sharpest knife in the kitchen drawer.

@helterskelter7499

I know people prefer "Unknown Pleasures" personally I'm more of a "Closer". Both albums are great, however this album is one of my all times favourites.

@noverrr4508

Disorder isnt an album? Lmao

@mournblade1066

Closer is FAR superior to Unknown Pleasures. Unknown Pleasures was the opening act, so-to-speak, and an amazing one at that.

@chriswoodcock2150

@@mournblade1066 amen to That

@differous01

Atrocity Exhibition opens a chamber where Ian's body still twists. The final exhibit closes that chamber which, Decades later, is still too close for comfort. Unknown Pleasures stands to Closer as 'Zarathustra' stands to 'Twilight of the Idols' (Ragnarok): the latter is where philosopher and poet's heart and soul are found.

@shauncheadle3936

Same

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