I recently posted about how luck is a combination of chance, curiosity, and hard work, and I still believe that. If you work hard and stay curious, there is a decent chance that you’ll find yourself “lucky” more often than not.
There are fun stories out there, though, where chance played a huge part in someone’s success. I have two great stories related to music that fall into that category.
You’ve heard the song Hallelujah in various places by a variety of artists over the years, but it took some incredibly unlikely events to get it into the world. Malcolm Gladwell covered it in his podcast a few years ago (and I strongly recommend that you listen to it here).
It’s a messy story, but essentially:
- Leonard Cohen spent five years tweaking and re-recording the song, and it went essentially nowhere.
- John Cale covered it, but it still went nowhere.
- A woman named Jeannine had a copy of Cale’s album, and when she had a man named Jeff Buckley house sit for her he happened to listen to the album, so Jeff recorded it himself and released it — and it went nowhere.
- Then Jeff suffered a tragic death, which got his name out there a lot more, and it brought the song to the masses.
Alfo Media summarized the post in a great 9-minute video that you can watch here:
The Piano Man
Billy Joel had a similarly improbable path to stardom. His first album, Piano Man, was released and it flopped. Columbia records stopped producing it, and they told Joel to “go back to the day job”.
By chance, a man named Keith Yates heard the album — he had over 200 promo albums in his house, Joel’s happened to be on top of a pile and Keith was interested in the cover art. After listening to it, he went through a massive amount of work to try to get the world to hear Piano Man. He succeeded, and wrote an incredible recap of how it all went down. It’s a long piece, but it’s captivating from start to finish.
Work hard to make your own luck, but there are always amazing stories of when chance just happens to win out.