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Posts: 28
Reply with quote  #1 

Not sure how active this forum is, but it seemed the best place for the results of some insomnia-fuelled nerdery.

I was listening to the reissue of Movement* and noticed I could clear up the vocals to the Western Works version of Ceremony by the highly technical procedure of wiggling the headphone plug until one channel drops out. (Probably that can be done on Audacity or similar as well, I just couldn't be arsed to fire it up.)

What happens when you do this is that the instrumentation is pushed way into the background, along with a lot of the reverb and echo on Stephen's vocals, making them much easier to hear.

Now, why should you care? I think - can't prove it - that this version features the band's attempt at deciphering Ian's lyrics. Not that they are Ian's lyrics, as New Order would have used them if possible, just that they represent an educated guess from his band-mates.

It's still quite hard to hear, but here's what I've got:

1 [...?] the prayers I'm learning
2 but they're telling the same old story
3 this is why the wheels are turning
4 thrown away [...?] this time
5 listen to the scenes they're calling
6 [...?] we were sinners
7 so long [...?] happy
8 thrown away [...?] this time

Line 1: Sounds most like "helped to find the prayers I'm learning",
Alternatives for "helped": "don't", "can't", "won't".
Alternatives for "to find": "you find", "define", "defy".
Alternatives for "I'm learning": "unworthy", "aren't working".

Line 2/3: I'm 99.9% sure these are correct.

Line 4: Sounds most like "thrown away, can't support this time".
Alternatives for "thrown": "blown", "gone", "go", "throw it".
Alternatives for "can't": "care(s)", "tears" (as in what love does, not weeping). Possibly "their".
Alternatives for "support": "aboard", "abort", "apart".

Line 5: 80% sure it's "scenes" in this version. I prefer "saints", and I suspect the rehearsal line actually is "saints", with "scenes" sneaking in as a mishearing when they transcribed the tape - however a director can 'call' a scene so it's not impossible.
Alternatives for "scenes": "seas", "saints", "seeds".

Line 6: I feel like this might be "but I thought that..." or "then I thought that...", something like that. 99.9% sure "sinners" is correct.

Line 7: Sounds a bit like "so long since I was happy", but I'm not certain at all.

Line 8: See L4, though I can't hear the 'c' for "can't" or "care" in this line.

As it stands, I think the Western Works lyrics scan reasonably well and do fit the sounds and tempo of the rehearsal recording. I don't think they are the words Ian sang, nor do I think it's possible to uncover those - I think he was probably mumbling lines from his notes rather than singing from a completed lyric. Presumably he sang something better on Still, but we'll never know.

Of course, the Western Works version could just be an early draft of the New Order lyrics, in which case all of this is pointless. In any event this helped to fill a bout of insomnia, and I thought it was worth sharing. I appreciate this version more after all this, though that might just be the Stockholm Syndrome after five hours of pausing and restarting it. If anyone has any thoughts or would like to recreate the experiment then I'd love to hear about it.

N.B., I'm aware of other attempts to transcribe the rehearsal lyrics made by fans - I've not been convinced by any of them, but I'm in no way trying to say these are more valid or better than those.

* Worth streaming, probably wouldn't have bought the box set but if they do one for P.C.L. or Technique I'll buy it quicker than you can say "overpriced".


Posts: 204
Reply with quote  #2 

Well done on this.
I tried to decipher these Western Works lyrics a few weeks ago, but couldn't get anywhere near what you pulled together.

Just listening to them now.  I think you're pretty accurate.  A couple of observations:

Line 1 could be 'Got to find the prayers I'm learning'
Line 4 almost sounds like it contains the words 'the cares'; So 'Thrown away the cares...'

But I'm struggling in the places that you are.

On the subject of indecipherable lyrics from the era, I finally managed to work out the passage that Gillian speaks in 'Doubts Even Here'.
Here's a post that I made on NewOrderOnline:

Trainspotter time again...

I've been listening to Movement quite a bit over the last week. It has reminded me that I've always wondered what lyrics Gillian was reading out at the end of 'Doubts Even Here'.
I thought it was probably religious, but I didn't know for sure and couldn't make out most of the words.

Lyrics websites didn't help, with the bits in question on these sites being basically made up.

I managed to make out a few words, and after a bit of hunting, worked out that it was probably from Psalm 77.
Not being a religious man, I had no idea that there are so many different translations / iterations of the Bible. Trying to actually find the exact words spoken during the song proved difficult. Most of the versions I read were similar but quite a bit different in places.

But I persevered (Why? Who knows? Boredom, probably) and I found them. Or as close to them as is possible without having the exact copy that Gillian held in her 20 year old hands.

So, for the first time ever on the internet (*), the words spoken by the lovely Ms Gilbert at the end of 'Doubts Even Here':

"I was dazed and I could not speak.
My thoughts went back to times long past.
I remembered forgotten years.
All night long, I was in deep distress.
As I lay thinking, my spirit was sunk in deep despair.
Will the Lord reject us for evermore and never again show favour?
Has his unfailing love now failed us utterly?
Must his promise time and again be unfullfilled?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he in anger withheld his mercies?
But then, O Lord, I call to mind thy deeds.
I recall thy wonderful acts in times gone by."

And here, as proof, is a copy of the Psalm:


Some things to note:

1) I can't guarantee that the first line is correct, as this is very low in the mix and I can't make out any words. I've just assumed this is what she said, based on the subsequent lines.
2) She throws ia second 'deep' in 77:6, which isn't in the copy above.
3) She misses out 77:10 - ''Has his right hand', I said, 'lost its grasp?' 'Does it hang powerless, the arm of the Most High?''

So there you go, the mystery (to me, at least) solved finally.

I'm really not sure why I took the effort to do this. Just another daft New Order 'project', I guess.

* Statement may not be strictly true. Terms and conditions apply. Caution - filling may be seeringly hot.


If you follow the lyrics as you hear the song, they sound very clear.  Much like your 'Ceremony' lyrics above.  When I tried to work them out a few weeks ago, I was drawing a blank.  Now I have your lyrics in front of me, it's easy to follow them through.

Anyway, sorry to hijack the thread, but thought you or others may be interested in this similar thread.


Posts: 28
Reply with quote  #3 

Fantastic work. Now I'm looking at your words while listening I can hear her clear as day. That's much more satisfying than the word salad on the lyrics sites you mentioned!

On that inaudible first line, I had a look and I think that line is only present in one channel - it sounds longer than "I was dazed and could not speak" but it's so faint that it's difficult to differentiate between her voice and the guitar. The rest are in both channels and are easier to pick out.

I hear about eleven syllables, possibly the words "cried" (or "Christ", "crisis" etc) and "fade" ("pray", "faith" etc). I don't know whether the copy of Psalm 77 you used has anything similar in earlier lines?

On Ceremony, I think the lines you suggested fit well. I compared it to the Scamps bootleg, which I think was from a few days earlier, and again the lyrics are a bit different, so perhaps these are just a draft of their own version. (Or they were still working on the rehearsal tape.)

That's about all the insight I have for Trainspotters' Corner this week. The second half of the song is easier to make out and the differences aren't so noteworthy, but for the sake of completeness, the first chorus (Peter singing):

1 I'll break them all, no mercy shown
2 [but] heaven knows it's got to be somewhere
3 watching her, she's watching me
4 [leave/believe] me now, it's got to be this time

This doesn't sound like either the rehearsal recording or the version on Still, though it's closer to the former. Line 3 seems like a complete rewrite. Puzzling because the studio version ("watching her, these things she said") is closer to both the rehearsal and Still recordings. Someone suggested "watching her, a sinking ship" for the Joy Division version, which fits both well.

The second chorus and the coda (Stephen singing):

1 I'll break them all, no mercy shown
2 heaven knows it's got to be this time
3 avenues all lined with trees
4 picture me, [it's then/instead] you start watching
5 watching forever
6 forever watching love grow
7 forever watching love grow
8 forever watching love grow

Line 3 seems to be a favourite image of Ian's, as it appears in The Only Mistake and in a fragment from his notebooks - "Avenues all lined with trees/Eden's garden left for thieves". This section in general resembles the live version from Still.

EDIT: Just a few words on the thought process behind all this over-analysis. It could be, as I suspect, that the Western Works lyrics are New Order's attempt to decipher a Joy Division recording of this song, or it could be that these are all-new lyrics written by New Order. If the latter, none of this is particularly important, save for documenting the writing process. If the former, then either it's based on the rehearsal recording and the live recording with an improvised first chorus, or it might be that there is an unknown or lost Joy Division recording that resembles the Western Works version more. Least likely but most intriguing.


Posts: 204
Reply with quote  #4 
Thanks for your comments on Doubts Even Here.

The earlier lines to the Psalm are as follows:

“I cried aloud to God,
I cried to God, and he heard me.
In the day of my distress I sought the Lord,
And by night I lifted my outspread hands in prayer.
I lay sweating and nothing would cool me;
I refused all comfort.
When I called God to mind, I groaned;
As I lay thinking, darkness came over my spirit.
My eyelids were tightly closed;
I was dazed and I could not speak.”

So it does have the word ‘cried’ in it. Do you think any of the lines would fit? I really can’t make out any of the words (but I have old ears and not the best headphones or tools to isolate the lyrics).

I think you’re right on the rest of the lyrics to Ceremony.
As regards the two lines in the chorus that you don’t know, I noted down the following two lines when I wrote them down a few weeks ago (I’ve not got the song with me to listen to at the moment).

“Believe me now, it's got to be this time”
“Picture me and then you start watching”

But whether these are right or not, I’m not sure.

Posts: 28
Reply with quote  #5 
"My eyelids were tightly closed; I was dazed and could not speak." You were right the first time, only she quotes the line before that as well. You have to strip out so much of the audio that it sounds like she's singing into a tin bath, but once you've seen the words you can't miss them.

Posts: 204
Reply with quote  #6 
You are a star!

I’ll try and have a listen a bit later and see if I can hear it.
I’m positive you’re right, but would love to hear it myself.
I did try to hear that line myself before, thinking it was the likely lyrics, but couldn’t hear it.

Fingers crossed I can hear it later.

Posts: 204
Reply with quote  #7 
Well, I tried to listen to them, but I can't pick out any of the words.
I don't suppose you're able to upload a little clip somewhere with the audio stripped out?  Just for that line.

By the way, I made a little video with the newly deciphered lyrics matched to the song.  I posted it on YouTube a little while ago:


Posts: 28
Reply with quote  #8 
Have PM'd you.

Your video doesn't seem to be available, just yet...

EDIT: Never mind, it loaded okay when I went through to your profile. Nice work.

Posts: 204
Reply with quote  #9 
Many thanks for helping me hear those words.

I think you've just about nailed the Ceremony WW demo lyrics.

Well, as good as it's possible to do.
I guess we can never be absolutely certain on these things.

I've just listened to the JD Rehearsal again.
Lines 3 and 4 certainly seem like they could be the same as the WW demo.
Most of the others are similar but it's very difficult to say with any certainty what Ian is singing.

You raise an interesting point about the possibility of a previously unheard version of Ceremony.  It would be great to think that there is one out there.
I guess the only thing about that is, we know from things said by Barney & Steve, that they had to put the version that they had through a graphic equaliser to try to work out what the lyrics were.  So if there's a different version out there, chances are it's as murky as the rehearsal / live version and we'd be just as unsure of what he's singing as Barney, Hooky & Steve were.

I'm not very knowledgeable on this, but do we know why there isn't a copy of the lyrics written down?  Is the common theory about this that the song was still in a state of flux and Ian was 'playing' with lyric ideas?

It'd be nice to think of a copy of the lyrics turning up, folding up in the back of a book, or in a record sleeve etc.
A pipe dream I know, but would be great if it happened.


Posts: 28
Reply with quote  #10 

I think the consensus is that the rehearsal recording is from March or April and represents a work in progress, with the live recording on Still being closer to completion. Someone can correct me if needed.

We know that New Order asked Deborah Curtis for Ian's notebooks and couldn't find any lyrics resembling Ceremony or (presumably) In a Lonely Place there. It may be that he didn't write them down, or else lost or destroyed his notes for these songs. I suspect he worked on the lyrics at least to the extent of making notes. Stephen has said that Ian would attend rehearsals with a plastic bag stuffed with lyrics, and that he'd annotate them as they worked on songs.

Further recordings - obviously they would have rehearsed it more than once, and I wouldn't be surprised if other takes were recorded - I'd actually be more surprised if they only taped it once - but I doubt any have survived. They would need to avoid being taped over during other rehearsals, and then not be damaged, destroyed or lost over the span of nearly forty years.

I'm of the opinion it isn't possible to transcribe the rehearsal vocals. There simply isn't enough of Ian's voice in the mix to discern much more than vowel sounds. It's more interesting to me in terms of sources - whether the recording we have is the original source, or whether it's a copy made after processing the sound to try and make out the vocals, or whether it's a different recording to the actual source. Trainspotter stuff really.


Posts: 204
Reply with quote  #11 
Thanks for the info.

I remember hearing that Ian would bring in carrier bags full of lyrics.

It's mouthwatering to think that there could be other rehearsals out there.  Hopefully some others have survived being taped over.  I guess though, as the years go by, with little in the way of unheard material coming to light, it seems less and less likely.

I think you're probably correct regarding the fact there isn't enough of Ian's voice in the mix.  A real shame that we may never really know what he was singing.
I suppose we can say that, as the lyrics appear to be unfinished, Ian may not have been satisfied with them.  So, the song and its true meaning would probably not be revealed, even if we could make out his vocals.  He'd have possibly embellished and refined it by the time they got to record a proper version of it.

Posts: 28
Reply with quote  #12 
That's my feeling too. It's a shame, but I guess it allows enthusiasts to project whatever they like onto the song - for better or worse.
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