Love Vigilantes

I find it intriguing to get a glimpse at what a songwriter has in mind when crafting a piece of music, especially when it’s a song I feel I know well.

In the case of the English band New Order’s “Love Vigilantes,” I had a rather rude awakening today when I did a little internet-based research on the song to see if I’d discover anything new. A Wikipedia article quotes the band’s vocalist, guitarist and songwriter, Bernard Sumner, from a 2012 interview with the British edition of GQ Magazine. Sumner tells of wanting to compose a “tongue-in-cheek” song about the Vietnam War. He explains that one can interpret the ending as either the soldier returning home to learn that a telegram advising of his death was incorrect, or it was true and it’s his ghost returning home. Sumner states that, either way, the man’s wife has died by suicide after receiving the telegram. Ohhhh.

I had always thought, perhaps in a Pollyanna kind of way, that the soldier arrives home to find his dear one in tears at the telegram, and his safe arrival makes everything good again, moments later.

Sumner’s subtle poke at war can unleash a sense of the utter tragedy of conflict and the many levels of loss it brings to the world.

Oh I’ve just come
From the land of the sun
From a war that must be won
In the name of truth
With our soldiers so brave
your freedom we will save
With our rifles and grenades
And some help from God
I want to see my family
My wife and child waiting for me
I’ve got to go home
I’ve been so alone, you see

You just can’t believe
The joy I did receive
When I finally got my leave
And I was going home
Oh I flew through the sky
my convictions could not lie
For my country I would die
And I will see it soon
I want to see my family
My wife and child waiting for me
I’ve got to go home
I’ve been so alone, you see

When I walked through the door
My wife she lay upon the floor
And with tears her eyes were sore
I did not know why
Then I looked into her hand
And I saw the telegram
That said that I was a brave, brave man
But that I was dead
I want to see my family
My wife and child waiting for me
I’ve got to go home
I’ve been so alone, you see

(“Love Vigilantes,” by Stephen Morris, Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner, Gillian Gilbert. Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of

“Love Vigilantes” is the opening track on the 1985 album Low-Life.

I’ve previously posted two other songs by New Order: “Your Silent Face” and “Crystal.” (In the latter post — a “cracking” song by the way — I included a photo of the back cover of Low-Life; the thumbnail image in the YouTube video for today’s selection is the front cover.)

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from New Order’s official YouTube channel:

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