While “Ceremony” might or might not be my all-time favorite song, it’s definitely my all-time favorite recording.
But because nothing is ever easy, I need to instantly point out that praise applies to this specific version of “Ceremony” — often referred to as “Ceremony (Version 1)” — which came out in March of 1981 as a 12-inch single with a green cover, and not the version that ended up on Substance, which is therefore the one that most people know.
The version on Substance was recorded in November 1980 after Gillian Gilbert joined the band, but the original recording was just Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris, working out their grief just months after their entire world was forever changed by the suicide of Ian Curtis.
There is a timeline, of course, where Ian Curtis never killed himself, and “Ceremony” was just the next Joy Division single. Weirdly enough, I still think they get into dance music, as once Sumner & Morris (and even Peter Hook) discovered technology, there was no turning back, and besides, on songs like “She’s Lost Control” & “Isolation” they were already angling in that direction.