How Richard Ashcroft's Song For The Lovers was inspired by Joy Division

3 April 2023, 15:56

Richard Ashcroft sings Song For The Lovers (Live For Radio X)

Radio X

By Radio X

Watch the former Verve frontman reveal the story and meaning behind his first solo single.

Richard Ashcroft's Song For The Lovers celebrates its 23rd anniversary this week, having been released on 3 April 2000.

The track was a significant one for The Verve legend, serving as the lead single and album opener on his debut solo record, Alone With Everybody and marking his first ever single as a solo artist.

The song helped cement Ashcroft's status as one of the greatest songwriters of his generation, but would it surprise you to know it was inspired by the Manchester band Joy Division?

Find out why Richard Ashcroft owes one of his most famous songs to Ian Curtis here.

Richard Ashcroft reveals Song For The Lovers inspiration

The former Verve frontman took part in a special conversation with Radio X's John Kennedy at London's Hammersmith Club in front of an intimate audience in 2018, and discussed the inspiration behind his biggest tracks.

Speaking about Song For The Lovers, Ashcroft explained: "I was in a hotel in London. It was a pretty shoddy hotel and back in the day there was still some of those bedheads with built-in radios."

Richard Ashcroft and the late Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis
Richard Ashcroft and the late Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis. Picture: 1. Jon Mo Photography 2. Martin O'Neill/Redferns

"I was in a love situation," he continued. "Had a bit of a love affair thing going down and I turned the radio on and [Joy Division's] Love Will Tear Us Apart bizarrely came out of this radio on the bedhead.

"It kind of triggered this 'play Misty for me' thing of "DJ play a song for the lovers" because the timing of this tune and Love Will Tear Us Apart coming out of this bedhead seemed perfect, you know?"

Watch Richard Ashcroft's Song For The Lovers video:

Richard Ashcroft - A Song For The Lovers

He added: "So I decided right, what about expanding that thought to make the Song For The Lovers? A song for that feeling of trepidation, anxiety, excitement. You're on the precipice. Potentially this person might be with you for life.

"Who knows where we're heading, but we're definitely on the train together. We've definitely gone beyond thinking about it or talking about it. We are lovers...."

Richard Ashcroft with Joy Division's Ian Curtis inset
Richard Ashcroft's was prompted to write Song For The Lovers thanks to Joy Dvision. Picture: 1. Robin Pope/Press 2. Verhorst/Redferns/Getty

As for the sound and composition of his debut solo track, Ashcroft also revealed that singer-songwriter Scott Walker and disco and funk legends Chic were big inspirations.

"The song itself... At the time I was listening to a lot of Scott Walker and things like that.... just wanted to write some big Scott Walker, Chic... It was future music man.

"There was nothing else out like that song."

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