Sam Hollander’s wayward adolescence was anchored by music. “As a kid, I was pretty lost,” he admitted. “I was a terrible student, bad athlete, etc., but I was a complete music freak. I collected records the way other kids hoarded baseball cards. One night, my parents met the legendary songwriter Nile Rodgers at a dinner party when I was in 8th grade. At the time, they were somewhat mystified by my obsession with Casey Kasem countdowns and record shops. As they relayed this to Nile, he speculated that I might just be a burgeoning songwriter myself. When my folks told me this over breakfast the next morning, I decided right then and there that this was indeed my higher calling. That was all it took. From that point on, it was ‘fake it til you make it.’” His misguided optimism buoyed this belief for over a decade. “Thankfully, I was blessed with both tenacity and a solid dose of delusion in my wiring. Though I failed and failed again musically over a 15 year stretch, I rarely repeated mistakes. In that process, I began to dial in my craft. Eventually, one tiny opportunity at the age of 34 changed it all.” This roller coaster of a professional journey compelled him to wear a new hat: author. Thus, 21 Hit Wonder was born. “Writing this book was easily the most rewarding and challenging undertaking of my career. It was such a rollercoaster full of toil and catharsis. It was infinitely cheaper than therapy. At the end of the process, the one fun reveal was the realization that I’d somehow always maintained a healthy mindset about setbacks. I’d rarely spiraled in defeat. Failure made me everything I am. Every miss was a valuable learning tool!”
An unexpected loss brought the urgency of his legacy sharply into focus. “When my Dad passed away in 2015, I inherited his computer and found all sorts of scribblings and notes for a lost book that he’d been working on for the previous 38 years,” Sam reveals. “Tragically, he died before it was ever strewn together. That completely crushed me. I felt short changed. Like my old man, I’d like to believe I’ve had a somewhat interesting creative journey, so I really just wanted to document it all for my daughter. That was the actual genesis of this thing. Then as it developed over time, it morphed into something behind my wildest expectations. 21 Hit Wonder is a shuttle through my career to date with a primary focus on the endless failures I endured during the first decade of my songwriting and the survival skills I absorbed from all of the flops. There were no co-writers or ghostwriters involved. This is just me. Worts and all. I’d like to think it’s an inspirational read for aspiring creatives (or pop culture fans) of any age. I’m donating 100 percent of my proceeds from the book to the amazing charity Musicians on Call. Same with all speaking, lecturing fees, etc. I’ve actually been on a book tour this winter speaking at 30+ colleges and universities. It’s been incredible.” Despite good intentions, failure comes with the pursuit of any ambition. Laughing at yourself will help soften the stakes. “At the end of the day, in creativity, it’s pretty difficult to game the outcome. You put yourself in the best possible situation, but inevitably you do fall short of loftier goals. That’s why you can’t take it personally. Sometimes the flops are just spectacular bits of comedy in themselves. Learn from them, but it’s ok to chuckle a little in hindsight! It increases perspective.”
Sam feels a kinship with anyone who has ever been counted out. “Underdogs are my tribe. This book was written for them. I mean, I’m a card carrying member of the club. From the day I began writing songs, I had to overcome insane obstacles, struggles, and setbacks in the entertainment industry. That’s what happens when you devote your life to an ‘against all odds’ craft. In the process though, I stumbled upon self-discovery, learned to find my own path, and stayed true to myself. I think this book will serve as a warm blanket for others who’ve hit endless potholes on the road to their creative destination.” Perseverance should remain the guiding principle of even the weariest of dreamers. “To quote Winston Churchill, ‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.’ Trust me, if I could do it, you can definitely do this too!” Sam learned precious lessons from his own failures. “Each and every flop was simply the blueprint to future victories! It’s hard for me to express how truly grateful I am for every last one!” Setbacks can be crucial stepping stones to glory. Buy 21 Hit Wonder HERE.
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Sam Hollander Laughs at Professional Blunders in New Book, “21 Hit Wonder.” Photo Credit: Danny Clinch.