Beloved author Nicholas Sparks and masterful songwriter JD Eicher have teamed up to create an incredible multimedia collaboration. “Two by Two” is both a novel and an EP and both are available starting today, October 4! [For details on how you can get the highly-anticipated book and music set, visit twobytwo.com.]
“‘The Notebook’ was published 20 years ago, so essentially that’s 20 books in 20 years,” Nicholas Sparks told AXS. “We wanted to give the readers a new medium in which to enjoy the feelings inspired by the stories. ‘Two by Two’ is a beautiful song from an immensely talented songwriter and performer – it’s a wonderful way to reflect the same kind of feelings that take place in the novel.”
“Nicholas and his team were reviewing music for this collaboration – they were looking for an artist,” JD informed. “My record label [Rock Ridge Music] is distributed through ADA, Alternative Distribution Alliance (The Lumineers, Ladyhawke, Radiohead, Bonnie Raitt), and there’s a gentleman there named Jason Sprague who put our name in the hat and they selected us from the pool of musicians they were looking at. It was just one of those moments where the stars kind of aligned, so I was ecstatic about the whole thing!”
According to Nicholas, “Two by Two” is about a man named Russell Green who is thrust into a Mr. Mom role and has to take care of his daughter. Throughout the story, there are different people who come into his life at the right moment so he doesn’t have to walk his journey alone.
“JD knew what the book was about, how it would end, and a lot of the dramatic turns the novel would take… even before my editor did,” Nicholas revealed. “He said, ‘Okay, tell me about the story,’ so I gave him some elements of the story, some of the themes, some of the moods, and the overall goals – I understand how to write a novel, but I don’t know how to write a song, so I wasn’t even sure what he was looking for. Essentially, he said, ‘Just talk and tell me what’s going on and I’ll jot down some notes as you go.”
“I was on the phone, frantically taking notes, trying to write everything down,” JD recalled. “He gave me the full rundown, told me how the story flows. It was exciting to hear the story unfold from his own mouth.”
Eicher knew it would be impossible to fit the whole novel into a single song, so instead of writing details, he tried to find the raw emotions that fueled the story.
“The second version – which was very close to the first – captured the flavor of what I’d hoped for in the novel, to the extent that the final line of the novel was inspired buy the song. So, the novel inspired the song, but the song also inspired the final line of the novel.”
“I don’t usually write a song until I want to say something,” JD confessed, “so there was a lot of weight on me for this one. But it ended up being easier than I thought because I already knew what I had to say – the themes were already there and I had the storyline right in front of me. I didn’t need to figure out what I was going to write about. It was all about nailing down that emotion.”
“I loved his take on the idea that no one’s meant to walk through life alone, that you really are meant to walk two by two,” Nicholas enthused. “This song is very nonspecific, it could be about a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, a friend, or a lover. I just love that about the song because it echoes what goes on in the novel and it’s such a wonderful theme because no one should go through life alone. I just thought that he captured that in such a wonderful, really deep and resonant manner.”
Besides the title track, the Two by Two EP contains three more emotionally charged songs that were hand-picked from JD’s discography – one from each of his last three albums.
“First off, JD is phenomenal, but we didn’t want the exact same song playing over and over. These three additional songs capture the feeling and the emotion of what I attempted to do, if not the literal theme. I thought, ‘Okay, let’s do something else, let’s add to this feeling. When you look at these three songs, you might say that one of them feels like the opening or one of them feels a little more like this moment when he’s really struggling. That’s what I love about the songs, they capture the movements of emotion within the story.”
Today, Nicholas Sparks and JD Eicher will be at Barnes & Noble Union Square in New York at 12:30 p.m. A limited number of wristbands are being distributed (one per customer) starting at 9 a.m. Nicholas will be available for photographs and he will also be signing copies of “Two by Two.” JD will be performing the songs from his Two by Two EP. Then at 6 p.m., you can catch Nicholas and JD at Barnes & Noble Waterworks in Pittsburgh, PA. On October 5 at 7 p.m., you can find the pair at Douglas Co. Libraries & Tattered Book Store in Denver. And, on October 6 at 7 p.m., the guys will be at Luther Burbank Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa, CA for a special event hosted by Copperfield’s Books and Luther Burbank Center for the Arts.
“This is a blessing,” JD concluded. “It’s a huge opportunity for me. There are so many songwriters who could have done this… I’m a lucky guy.”