Environmental Sounds


The Tesla lineup (l-r): Models S, X, 3 and Y; photo from Tesla.

Soft and unobtrusive, so-called “elevator music” was originally designed to have a calming, soothing effect on people who were anxious about riding in elevators (especially those riding for the first time). For a time, the uncomplicated melodies and orchestral arrangements were fairly ubiquitous, emanating not only from elevator cars, but also waiting rooms, shopping malls and even car radios. At some point, though, the simple – some would say bland – tunes began to fall from favor, with many people becoming openly hostile toward the unassuming genre. As the hostility grew, the number of places you could hear the music became less and less, until even few elevators continued to serve up their signature sounds.

Not everyone hates elevator music, however, and a recently announced plan by a tech billionaire – none other than Elon Musk – could mark a comeback of sorts for the musical style. According to USA Today, the entrepreneur plans to have the electric cars from his company Tesla play elevator music through their external speakers, sharing the sound with pedestrians and other motorists. Musk announced the new offering in an August 20 tweet. No timeline was given as to when the feature would be available, but Tesla frequently sends upgrades via over-the-air updates (similar to smartphones), so it could happen anytime.

Passenger Tips and More

Lonnie Mackenzie, owner of Abco Elevator in Regina, Canada, posted a video that offers “three tips for a germ-free elevator ride,” CTV News reported. The article also rounds up a lot of the new technology and procedures we’ve been reporting about in ELEVATOR WORLD since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Check out the Abco video channel on Vimeo to see three other interesting, recent videos by and about the company.

TBT: Of Elevators, the 80s, a Legendary Watch and a Legendary Hip Hop Band

In looking through my Google alerts for blog material, I noticed a “Coffee Talk Wednesdays” segment by an Oklahoma City FOX news team in which the three hosts revealed their choices — Stevie Wonder, (comic actress) Mindy Kaling and (comic actor) Will Ferrell — for who they would like to be stuck in an elevator with, and went on to conduct an audience poll. My work and, at times, personal life has brought me face to face with a few famous people. One such encounter took place in a hotel elevator in New Orleans in 1987. While the elevator was not “stuck” (it was simply traveling from floor to floor), it gave a just-out-of-high school goth/Madonna wannabe a chance to attempt to strike up a conversation with the celebrity in the elevator with me: Joseph Simmons, aka Run, Rev. Run and DJ Run of the groundbreaking hip hop band Run DMC. Noticing we sported the same “X” Swatch watch, I said, “Hey, nice watch!” To which, Rev. Run replied, “……” In other words, silence. He just stared deeply into the wall. Oh, well. He could probably tell from my attire I wasn’t exactly a hip hop fan.

(l-r) Jason Mizzell, Darry McDaniels and Joseph Simmons in an early Run DMC publicity photo

I have since learned that the “X” Swatch in question went on to be embraced by the “straight edge” punk movement that eschews alcohol and drugs. That wasn’t why I was wearing it — I simply liked the letter and the Los Angeles band, X. Anyway, original “X” Swatches became legendary and some have even sold on sites like eBay for hundreds, or even a thousand, dollars. No — I have no idea what happened to mine.

The legendary “X” Swatch, circa 1987
“Hey, nice watch!” Your author around the time of the incident