Thad Cockrell’s “Swingin’” skyrocketed to #1 on iTunes after a light switch broke in New York City.
Jimmy Fallon heard the Nashville singer’s song inside of a hardware store while looking to replace the switch that had gone out in his home, and fell in love with the track. His quest to book Cockrell on The Tonight Show would turn out to be a case of divine timing—only the day before, Cockrell had told his managers he was ready to step away from music and pursue another career.
Cockrell’s been in the business since 2001, and appeared on the Paste Happiest Hour livestream in 2020. But after a year when the global pandemic took a major toll on the music industry as a whole, Cockrell’s latest album If In Case You Feel The Same didn’t receive the level of attention that he had hoped to keep his musical career moving forward. The week of his Fallon performance, Cockrell’s album seized the #2 spot on the U.S. iTunes album sales chart.
“Just zooming out on all of it, if I were to see this happening to someone else, I’d be like, ‘Oh my goodness, this is so incredible for that person.’ And then when I saw what Jimmy was doing, it went from me getting to play The Tonight Show to then he basically created a whole episode around that song. I was watching it and I was like, ‘If I was seeing this I’d be like, “Oh, Jimmy is actually making this person famous.”’” Cockrell tells Paste. “When I was watching it, I was like, ‘Oh my god, I just so happen to be the person.’”
Before the pandemic, Cockrell headed to a studio in east Nashville to record some live performances ahead of the release of If In Case You Feel The Same. The video for “Slow And Steady” from this session premieres exclusively at Paste today.
Cockrell’s performance on The Tonight Show gave the singer a much different experience than the last time he played live. “Every time I’ve gone to New York and played a show, I’ve had knots in my stomach because I’m like, ‘I hope people show up.’ And I went back, and I was driving through the tunnel from LaGuardia, and I remember thinking, ‘Oh my god, I don’t have that feeling for the first time.’ And that felt so weird. Because I knew that there was millions of people waiting to listen, which is mind-bending,” says Cockrell. “I didn’t have the worry of like, ‘Are people gonna show up?’ I knew that there was something else waiting for me which was really incredible, to experience something new after doing something this long without a different change of story.”
Check out Cockrell’s live “Slow and Steady” video below, and revisit his December performance at the Paste Studio in Nashville further down.