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philip sherburne

++ Needle Drops is now an occasional music column that a number of Neumu writers take turns writing. All columns prior to March 2004 were written by Philip Sherburne.

++ Recently ++

Tuesday, November 29, 2005 = The Stooges Unearthed (Again)

Tuesday, November 8, 2005 = Documenting Beulah And DCFC

Tuesday, November 1, 2005 = Out-Of-Control Rock 'N' Roll Is Alive And Well

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 = Just In Time For Halloween

Monday, October 3, 2005 = The Dandyesque Raunch Of Louis XI

Monday, August 15, 2005 = The Empire Blues

Tuesday, August 9, 2005 = David Howie's Sónar Diary

Monday, July 25, 2005 = Hot Sounds For Summertime

Monday, June 27, 2005 = Overcoming Writer's Block At Sónar 2005

Monday, June 4, 2005 = Cool New Sounds To Download Or Stream

++ Needle Drops Archives ++

View full list of Needle Drops articles...

Monday, May 2, 2005

++ Slowing Down

By Jenny Tatone

++ I finally listened to Sleater-Kinney's new album, The Woods, last night. It wasn't the first time I'd heard it, but it was the first time I really listened.

Previous sessions were a lot like the others — you know, where your mind can only attend to albums in flashing commercial-length spans of time, three tracks and move on to the next. I'm blaming the world — well, mostly my job, but that's kind of the same thing, right?

And, on top of that, my stupid life-sucking job has crowned me Queen of the Multitask. And, no, that's not a good thing. This means I am queen of being able to pay attention to oodles of things, while not ever being able to pay enough attention to understand any of them.

Once again, society's/media's detrimental consequences are being blamed, the finger pointing rather in the direction of science or genetics or biology, or something. Adult Onset ADD? Are you kidding me? More like "Adult Onset I've Been Watching TV for Too Many Years ADD." And I never even watched THAT much TV — but enough, I suppose. And, hey, I am, and can't help it, a member of this fast-paced, high-tech world, ya know?

Nowadays, instead of trying to speed up and hone my impressive "Look how many oranges I can juggle at once!" skills, I am desperately pulling at the E-brake, hoping to screech my brain to a single-subject halt, to get to the last sentence, to the last paragraph, to the last track (and, no, not all at the same time!) without distraction. And then actually feel full! Not empty and craving more like the TV/Internet leaves ya. Instant gratification is irresistible, yet unsatisfying.

++ So last night, I sat in front of the speakers and fought every urge to get up, every urge to grab a magazine, every urge to check my email. Our brains are so conditioned to believe "it's never going to get done," or "there's not enough time in the day," or "it's all stacking up and squashing me" that we feel forever compelled to multitask. Two birds on the same clock. Well, I've had it.

What happened to — rather than over-consuming everything — being consumed by something, by one thing? I still can't believe we're living in a time where reconditioning our brains to slow down is so necessary. Fast times and over-stimulation? Keeps the guinea pig running, but the darn animal's not really going anywhere.

So I decided it's time I tried going somewhere with something. I'd rather go far with one thing than in circles with a dozen.

Like meditation, I held my own against distraction, track six, track seven, and then! I forgot I was counting or even trying at all. I was in, everything else was out, and it felt good. The interlocking guitars were slashing me from the left and from the right. The drums were pummeling my rib cage from the inside. And the vocals were coming alive in my apartment, making my neighbors only wish I'd turn it up.

++ It's so easy to get locked into overdrive, wanting to conquer it all but, in the meantime, accomplishing, well, not much. Yes, we live in the age of the short attention span (email, iTunes, reality shows, hello?) but there's a lot left in the power to hold focus. The album experience may be slipping away — and, yeah, not all the albums out there are really worth your full attention anyway — but after my exercise in holding it last night, I'm going to give it a shot more often. You never know what you're going to find and — more importantly — let go.

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