Daniel Levitin was in his 30s when he went back to college and got a degree in cognitive psychology, launching the career that has made him a best-selling author. His first book, This Is Your Brain on Music: Understanding a Human Obsession (2006), spent more than a year on The New York Times Bestseller List.
Not that Levitin was a slacker before that. He'd racked up more than a dozen gold and platinum records as a music producer and consultant, working with Steely Dan, Blue Oyster Cult, and Stevie Wonder. He also did pretty well as a stand-up comedian and joke writer, performing at the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco with Robin Williams and at comedy clubs in California. And he played bass in a San Francisco punk band that opened for Bad Religion.