James Murphy wants to make subway stations musical

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Image Credit: Samir Hussein/Getty Images

First James Murphy wanted to make jogging more pleasant when his now-defunct LCD Soundsystem (RIP) released 45:33, a musical composition made to listen to while working out, and now he wants to make New York’s subway stations more pleasant. Is that even possible? Well, he thinks so.

Murphy told The Wall Street Journal that he doesn’t like the sounds the subway turnstiles make when you slide your Metro card through them — an admittedly flat “beep” — and so he took it upon himself to create a set of notes for the turnstiles at each station, which would result in what he calls a “subway symphony.”

Murphy even created a website for the initiative, and on it, he addresses that yes, there are “way bigger problems in New York.” He counters that by saying, “But this one is so infuriating because, quite simply, it would be really cheap and easy to change. And I think it would be really lovely, honestly.” The musician makes a solid case for having separate tones in each individual station, imagining a city where “people who grew up with these sounds will hear a piece of music at an opera, or on an ad, or in the background of a film and feel a nostalgia for their first apartment, or their basketball practices, as thy think ‘this song reminds me of Borough Hall’ or ‘This song reminds me of my school [at] East Broadway.’”

Murphy has been working on this “subway symphony” for 15 years, but it’s just now making headlines because the MTA is beginning a project to improve the city’s stations and Murphy sees this as the perfect opportunity to accomplish his own project. Adam Lisberg, a spokesman for the MTA, spoke to The Wall Street Journal and didn’t seem too on-board with Murphy’s idea because of logistical and monetary reasons, but Murphy’s motivated: His website even features a petition supporters of his idea can digitally sign. And really, all he wants to do “is make our city a little more kind.” Maybe the MTA should let him.

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