Monday, November 30, 2009

Sadler Vaden Speaks the Truth

I was not privy to watching the 4 hour HBO special last night celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame...we don't have HBO....but a good friend of mine was. His name is Sadler Vaden. He's the lead singer/songwriter/guitarist for the rock band Leslie. I was lucky enough to have met him this year as we shared space as steady rollin' rockers  in the "Man Van" while touring the country this past spring with Bang Camaro.
Leslie supported us on most of that tour and I forged a kinship with the band, their restless spirit and their authentic love for tried and true rock and roll. They made me feel like I still had something to give to this crazy life of a musician and in return, I let them know how impressed I was with their steadfast belief in the genre, their focus and their all out love affair with creating and performing in the truest spirit of what great rock is made of... This is so lost on most of the performers and the dumbed down, robotic, saccharine audiences of the generation below us...but not on Sadler.. Here is what he had to say about the current state of rock/pop music... after watching the HBO special last night....ahem, PREACH, brother!


Hello everyone

It is one o clock in the morning of Monday November 30th 2009. I just returned from a pal's house where we were watching the HBO showing of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concert. A concert event held at the legendary MSG put on by the likes of big hitters such as Jann Wenner, Tom Hanks, and Robbie Robertson to celebrate 25 years of the hall. The lineup was mind-numbing, i'm talking NUMBING. Everybody was there......well almost everybody. Everybody thats still alive that could show up. The two night concert was squeezed into four hours of nothing but the best performances from artists such as CSN, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Metallica, Jeff Beck, Stevie Wonder, Simon & Garfunkel, etc. including some of the coolest collaborations I have ever seen. Every artist that performed is getting up there in age but still managed to sound unbelievably fresh and relative to today's standards or even above. It was amazing to see all of these living legends get up there and still pour every ounce of soul into what they were doing. Its like they haven't even missed a beat! You would think that after doing what "they do" for so long, some of that spark would be gone, diminished in a way. The whole night was anything but that.

It really made me realize all that we've lost in today's musical integrity. That perfection, that "want" to go above and beyond the norm, that imagination of taking someone to a place they've never been before, or a place that they've been to a million times in their lives with people or places that they've loved. Its almost like we've lost the art of captivating an audience with just a voice, a guitar, and a microphone. A message, a dream, a song. No longer can we just go up there and sing about a person looking in the mirror wondering about what he or she means to this world. We have Adam Lambert from American Idol going on the American Music Awards and shoving someone's face into his crotch on prime time television for what, ratings? First off, American Idol is tired. Who wants to see a bunch of hacks, who mean nothing to the idea of rock and roll, criticizing just "another bunch of singers." Don't get me wrong, some of these people are talented, but very few of them have the feeling or soul that once was. You don't find the real deal that way, the raw talent just shows up. Otis Redding was just a roadie for a group when he walked into Stax studios and begged everyone to let him sing. You don't get that everyday. You don't find your soul mate by "looking," they come to you. Then we have Green Day which was like the closest thing we had to true rock on the AMA's, go up there and just sing another song about the war or something and just looked bored. Tired and bored. Look don't sing about something that critical and not at least act like you mean it. To me, Green Day has joined the soda machine of rock music. Hmmmmmm, what will I have today, a Nickelback or a Green Day. Don't take me to the heart so much, I love Green Day, but I mean GREEN DAY! Not these impostors!

Which brings me to Miley Cyrus. Who at the Nickelodeon Teen Choice Awards started working a stripper pole as a part of her act. Information brought to me by Kathy Griffin's Bravo special, I Got Balls. I mean come on Miley....i mean come on Billy Ray! I couldn't believe it as my sister said " Us women have worked and fought so hard for so many rights, just to have lil 16-17 (whatever she is) year old Miley Cyrus workin a stripper pole in front of a bunch of pre-pubescent boys and girls. Thats a great example to set for America's youth. Look boys and girls, you don't have to have talent anymore, just shove somebody's face in your crotch and jump on a stripper pole for all the world to see. Look if these people were really that talented, they wouldn't have to rely on these tasteless shenanigans to get people to watch and notice them. At least Taylor Swift just performs her stuff the best she can while looking like the girl next door. What happened to artists like Tom Petty who could just stand up there with a guitar and a kick-ass band and bring the house down. You think Stevie Wonder would do that? Stevie is blind!!!! He's just thankful he is still alive and has a voice and a message to bring to you people! Not rely on some tasteless act of desperation because you're just not that good. Is anybody listening anymore? NO! We're just watching. We're listening with our eyes instead of our ears. Who puts on their headphones and listens to a vinyl anymore with their eyes closed? I do, and you should too. Go somewhere, thats what music is for. Its an escape from the financial woes and cheap fear we're smothered with every day. Get over it! Life ain't a walk in the park and its not supposed to be! So start runnin!

I come to you with this while listening to The Rolling Stones record It's Only Rock & Roll. Look, rock and roll is not a joke and neither is music. Its something bigger than us. We have to embrace it and nurture it, not let it go to waste while in the hands of performers like Adam "Flamboyant" and Kanye "douche" West. Look, Bowie and Bolan were flamboyant, but they weren't lost of class. Chrissie Hynde from the Pretenders said to my friend Jaren Johnston of rock band American Bang, "You know what you're doing, this is not a joke, rock and roll is a league, rock and roll is serious. Its not some toy you can pick up from Wal-Mart and play with for a few days and then throw in the pile of "done-withs," its a lasting thing, keep it up and don't F*$!K with it!" Its always been something bigger to me as well. I remember when I was 6 years old, standing up on the coffee table with my snow boots on and my plastic guitar and microphone reenacting Pete's famed windmill move. I met Roger Daltrey the other night. One of the best moments of my life. He came out back after the show and shook people's hands, you know why? Because Roger knows his place. He's thankful for everything we've given him. Look, these guys leave it up there every night. In the new Rolling Stone magazine, there's a quote I really enjoy. Brandon Flowers of The Killers says of Bruce Springsteen, " Bruce can wipe up the stage with any 25 year old kid." He's right. Just like everyone who performed at MSG the other night, these people give it their all. I like to think of myself and my band as just that. We pride ourselves on that. We're not the best band in the world, but dammit do we give it everything we got! We play the same show for a couple thousand or a couple.

So what I'm saying is, give it your all. No matter what it is you do. We need you. The world needs you. Leave it there man. Leave it all there. Live for now and tomorrow, cuz you can't go back. Shine that light. Shine "your" light and let it be love. Cuz if we settle for less we're just gonna become a wasteland of complacency. A place where its about the surface and not whats beneath. We can't let it go down the drain. We have to rise above the ashes of mediocrity and get back to whats real, MUSIC. ROCK AND ROLL. Its not dead, its just stuck inside waiting to get out and play on the monkey bars again. I hereby promise you that I/we will wave that flag. Wave it high and proud. Like Terry Fox says, if you ain't here what I'm here for, you gonna be here when I'm gone. Lets leave them in the dust.

sadler vaden

Sadler, you can't see me...but you can feel me waving my little freak flag from this sleepy suburban hamlet. I will do my best to never put it down. Thank you for "getting it", brother. Rock On..................... 


  1. WHOAH! You can't see me either but I am giving Sadler a standing ovation with tears running down my cheeks (while wearing my Born to Run t-shirt and my Bowie knee high boots). This was one of the bets things I've read in a long, long time. Thank you for sharing it here. I'm not even a musician, just an appreciator, and sadly I don't know if there will be anyone left to appreciate for our kids or grandkids.....unless something changes.

  2. Fuckin A. Don't know where you found this guy, but he's all right.

  3. Sadler Vaden, let me just say " Well Done" to the above comments you have given on today's Rock n roll era ... Being a guitarist myself, I fully agree with whatever you have said above, because its actually the thing going on now... I can't think of even a single band that could proudly claim that its a rock/hard rock band as of today, I mean yes, there are a few ones, but does anyone know about them as good as we are aware of people like Kelly clarkson, or the Jonas brothers ! At any Music awards that i have seen on TV, I think to myself : Is there any Rock n Roll left before the show ends, or had I wasted 2 hours waiting for these Wannabe strippers/or show-offs ! Well said buddy, Your views are really correct and I largely appreciate someone who said that !

  4. Very well articulated my friend! The essence you have carefully argued is quite simple: when rock was young it was purveyed by those who 'needed' to do it. The music drove them. Today, fame is the driver and music is one of the means to achieve it. I remember watching a bit of domestic film of Carl Wilson singing 'God Only Knows' accompanied by Brian at the piano. Two old guys, one half dead through drugs yet the passion was still there and it brought a tear to my eye. Try telling that to the wannabes on the next talent show.

  5. It is sad that so many choose empty calories over filet mignon when it comes to music. Still, tell as many people as possible in the hope that a few will actually take up the challenge to make music first and not sell their soul to the Disney corporation. I don't care where it's coming from, as long as it's inspired, sweaty and real.

  6. Sadler: You make some good points, but a lot of what you've said is awfully cranky. If your life is full of "financial worries and cheap fear," there's more wrong than what music's getting played on TV & the radio.
    I'm also disappointed by almost all popular music, I also think music sounded much better when I was younger (I'm 50) -- but there was a LOT of crap back then too, maybe you've just forgotten about it. Just because something's old doesn't make it good.
    If you expect radio and TV to point you in the right direction for the Good Stuff, you're going to be disappointed -- they've never been reliable before. & why do you CARE about American Idol & the AMA's? Millions of people buy crap, they always have. In 5 or 10 years nobody will remember or care what that crap was. (Remember Debbie Boone, David Cassidy, Leif Garrett, Shaun Cassidy, Debbie Gibson, Tiffany... Britney Spears? The current Flavor Of The Month will be gone next year.)
    I'm at least glad to see you haven't given up. I haven't either. I've found a few albums in the last few years that are worth hearing, a few acts worth following -- and few of them get much time on TV or the radio. & I fall back on my Old Favorites A LOT. Only you know what works for you. But it's not fair to paint everything with the same negative brush -- no matter how bad the majority of new stuff sounds these days. With an attitude like that, you'll never hear the Good Stuff the next time it comes along. Hey, even U2 was dangerously new & scary once upon a time....
    I'd submit that if almost all new music is "surfacey" -- and I'd agree a LOT of it IS -- maybe it's because a lot of LIFE is pretty surfacey these days, because we've allowed it to become that way, and maybe we need to dig a little deeper to make it more meaningful -- in all things.
    I admire you all for speaking your minds on this. Hope you'll forgive me for speaking mine.... -- TAD.