Love Vigilantes

Album: Low-Life (1985)
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Songfacts®:

  • This song is about a soldier who feels he is fighting for a noble cause, but looks forward to returning home to his family. In a twist ending, he comes home and finds his wife crying on the floor. A note in her hand reveals that the soldier has been killed, and he is home only in spirit.
  • New Order frontman Bernard Sumner wrote the lyric. His feelings about war are nuanced - he considered fighting for Britain in the 1982 Falklands War when Argentina invaded the British islands, but he is generally opposed to war.

    In this song, he takes a stab at the kind of guy who just looks for aggression. "It's like a rebel song but it's very tongue-in-cheek," he told Melody Maker in 1986. "It's kinda laughing at rednecks. From what I said you may construe it to mean that I'm a redneck - I am not a redneck, I assure you, and 'Love Vigilantes' is like laughing at rednecks. The more ridiculous my lyrics are, the less serious the song is."
  • The band was in an altered state throughout recording the Low-Life album, relying on a cadre of engineers to piece together the tracks in a meticulous manner. Bernard Sumner says that the drug influence on their playing is quite evident on this track. He told Q magazine: "Listen to 'Love Vigilantes.' Listen to that chordal guitar solo. Listen to how fast it is. Impossible to recreate under normal circumstances."
  • Like many New Order songs, the title does not appear in the lyrics and appears to have nothing to do with the song.
  • Bernard Sumner revealed in a 2012 interview with GQ that he wrote the song differently than his normal process, in that he created it from scratch rather than listening to a piece of music first to suggest the words.

    "I did that with "Love Vigilantes" where I decided to write a redneck song," he said. "It was quite tongue-in-cheek. It was about Vietnam. It was about a soldier that came back and his wife was sent a telegram to say that he was dead."

    "You can take the ending one way or another." Sumner added. "He's either dead and he's come back as a ghost and he sees her or he's not dead and the telegram was a mistake. But his wife's got it and killed herself."

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