Why a Book and CD Set? Why Help and Hope?

Today, it’s not unheard of to find a book and CD published together. In most cases, though, the reason for the pairing is pretty straightforward: For example, a biography of Mozart comes with a CD of Mozart’s music in the back, or a recording artist publishes a book of poetry with a CD of her music in the back. There have even been a few novels published in recent years accompanied by a CD of music. But until now I’d never seen a non-fiction self-help book accompanied by a CD of original music that both convey the same attitude and message.

Why create such a combination? One simple answer is that … I could. After paying my dues for many years as both a musician and a science writer, it was well within my capabilities to create a book and CD set, and not many people can say that. But a better answer is that I know the power of both forms of communication. I knew that if I could use both to convey the same message, the result had the potential to be far more than the sum of the parts.

Consider a movie soundtrack. Nearly every movie (and TV show, for that matter) has music playing behind much of the action onscreen. Even if you’re not paying attention to it, that music can trigger intense emotion that the image onscreen alone would not. For example, remember the movie Jaws, about the giant man-eating shark? When the movie shows the shark approaching, you hear the low-pitched theme that goes DUM dum DUM dum DUM dum DUM dum, going up and down a half-step in pitch. THAT’s what makes the scene scary! If you turn off the sound, it’s just a fish swimming around.

It occurred to me that a self-help book is a bit like a documentary with no musical soundtrack. So, one way to think of Help and Hope is that the album Piece of the Puzzle is the soundtrack for the book. It provides the direct emotional input that it’s difficult for a book to impart. Conversely, you could think of it the other way around: Music can be very powerful, but it’s even more powerful if you understand what drove the writer to create it. The book provides the explanation for the optimism and faith in human nature that’s evident in the music and lyrics on the CD.

Finally, why Help and Hope? I’ve been fascinated by human behavior since I was a child, and I’ve always felt that I was here to help people. Over the years I’ve tried to do that by writing inspiring music and thought-provoking essays. So when I decided to create a the book Staying Off the Wheel of Misfortune and combine it with uplifting music, Help and Hope was the theme – and the obvious title for the set.

When it comes to pairing a book and CD, Help and Hope may not be as obvious a pairing as a biography of Mozart with a CD of his music. But with luck, my set will do what the title says, giving both help and hope to the reader/listener.

Help and Hope was a joy to create; I hope it brings at least as much joy to you!