The story of Jimmy Fallon, a broken light switch, and a #1 song

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (Photo by: NBCUniversal)
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (Photo by: NBCUniversal) /

On The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon has demonstrated his musical talent time and time again. Now, Fallon’s ear for talent is starting to pay off, too.

Thanks to a boost from The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the song “Swingin'” by Thad Cockrell is number one on iTunes. The story of how it came to Fallon’s attention is one of coincidence and perseverance.

It all started with a broken light switch at Fallon’s home. It was during the early stages of the lockdown when The Tonight Show was being filmed from the host’s home.

Fallon went out to the hardware store to fix the switch and the song in the store piqued his interest. A quick Shazam revealed it was “Swingin'” by Thad Cockrell off his 2020 album If In Case You Feel The Same. Fallon thought that the song’s message of perseverance related to The Tonight Show making the best of a difficult situation and asked that Cockrell be booked on a future show. You can hear Fallon’s detailed version of the story right here:

If you’re like Questlove and Tariq and find it a little hard to imagine Jimmy Fallon driving his truck to a hardware store before doing some electrical work, Fallon has the receipts.

The Tonight Show host took to Twitter to show a picture of the broken light switch that eventually led to him discovering Thad Cockrell. Fallon’s Twitter bio says “astrophysicist” but maybe it should read “master electrician.”

Cockrell was the musical guest on Jan. 26. He performed “Swingin'” with help from The Roots. Considering it was the quarantine that led Fallon to Cockrell, it was fitting that the musician’s Tonight Show debut was via Zoom.

Thad Cockrell was ready to quit music before Jimmy Fallon called

Appearing on The Tonight Show is a big deal for any musician. It’s even more impressive when Jimmy Fallon specifically asks for the musician by name. Thad Cockrell’s story became even more inspiring when it was revealed he was ready to walk away from music before Fallon called.

Cockrell has been making music for 20 years but never quite hit it big over the past two decades. At the start of 2021, he was contemplating a career change that included possibly selling his homemade hot sauce.

But things changed when Fallon and The Tonight Show reached out, rewarding Cockrell for his talent and his perseverance. The late night show once again shined the spotlight on Cockrell by announcing that “Swingin'” had reached number one on iTunes days after the Tonight Show performance.

Jimmy Fallon is genuinely happy for Cockrell and the success that has come his way. There’s no gloating or “I told you” coming from the Tonight Show host. Instead, it’s one artist lifting up another and helping spread a message on the virtue of perseverance and determination.

It is the kind of story that we all can appreciate as the pandemic passes the one year mark and people continue to try to move forward in uncertain times. The Tonight Show and Thad Cockrell are among those doing what they can to make things a little more hopeful.

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What did you think of Thad Cockrell’s performance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.