New York City, NY

LCD Soundsystem Rocks New York: Book Excerpt

Frank Mastropolo

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Capitol Records / DFA / EMI

Where did Elvis record “Hound Dog” and Bill Haley record “Rock Around the Clock”? Where did Dylan play his first major gig? Or the Beatles make their US debut? Where was Hendrix discovered? New York City, where rock history has been made on the street corners of Harlem, the coffee houses of Greenwich Village, and the city’s clubs, theaters, studios, and arenas.

New York Groove: An Inside Look at the Stars, Shows, and Songs That Make NYC Rock tells more than 200 stories of the artists, writers, DJs, and impresarios who came together in Manhattan to make rock history from the 1950s to today.

In this excerpt, LCD Soundsystem defines New York rock at the turn of the 21st century.

"New York, I Love You but You're Bringing Me Down" by LCD Soundsystem

Singer-songwriter James Murphy formed LCD Soundsystem in Brooklyn in 2002. Murphy, born in New Jersey, laments the era of New York music that he missed. “During my favorite era of music, I was too young or non-existent,” Murphy told The Guardian. “When I look at 1968 to ’74, watching everything getting turned upside down, and record companies run by weirdos, and genuinely strange music becoming hits . . .” 

Murphy moved to the city in 1989 as a teenager. "It wasn’t everything I wanted it to be, of course, but it’s still better than everything else," Murphy recalled in the Village Voice. "What I wanted was this really juvenile suburban ideal of New York, and what I got was a really complicated, very non-suburban New York, a very real New York. And I fell in love with it."

In “New York, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down,” from 2007's Sound of Silver, Murphy complains about gentrified New York at the beginning of the 21st century: "So the boring collect / I mean all disrespect / In the neighborhood bars / I'd once dreamt I would drink."

"New York, I Love You but You're Bringing Me Down" by LCD Soundsystem

LCD Soundsystem, Madison Square Garden, April 2, 2011

Fans were shocked when Murphy announced that the Brooklyn band would play its last show at Madison Square Garden in 2011. The band had released three hit albums; the latest, 2010's This Is Happening, debuted at number 10 on the Billboard 200 in its first week.

"I knew it was the last record," Murphy recalled in Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001–2011. "I just felt: three and out. With punk bands, the first three are good and the rest suck . . . What would be the point of continuing?"

Murphy told the New York Times in 2017 that the arena had been booked far in advance but the Garden "didn’t think we were going to sell well. They were trying to get a big opener for us. My theory was if I make it our last show, we’ll sell it out in two weeks."

"It wasn’t a total lark, but it was a bit larky," Murphy explained. "But I like making decisions. I find it easy."

The show sold out in minutes. LCD Soundsystem played for almost four hours, reprising their entire catalog as fans danced in the aisles. At its end, a flurry of white balloons descended on the audience. “I thought it would be really sad," keyboardist Nancy Whang told Rolling Stone. "But it was just fun. The energy in the room was really charged."

LCD Soundsystem closed its farewell show with “New York, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down.”

Mastropolo is the author of New York Groove: An Inside Look at the Stars, Shows, and Songs That Make NYC Rock and Fillmore East: The Venue That Changed Rock Music Forever.

New York Groove: An Inside Look at the Stars, Shows, and Songs That Make NYC Rock

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Frank Mastropolo is the author of Fillmore East: The Venue That Changed Rock Music Forever, one of Best Classic Bands' Best Music Books of 2021; New York Groove: An Inside Look at the Stars, Shows, and Songs That Make NYC Rock; the What's Your Rock IQ? Trivia Quiz Book series; Ghost Signs: Clues to Downtown New York's Past, winner of the 2021 Independent Publishers Book Award; and Ghost Signs 2: Clues to Uptown New York's Past. Mastropolo is a journalist, photographer, and former ABC News 20/20 producer, winner of the Alfred I. DuPont–Columbia University silver baton. His photography is featured in the Bill Graham Rock & Roll Revolution exhibition.

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