By Jim Hagerty


A Boone County author continues to champion a lifelong passion for music in his second book, an inside look at how music inspires those who create it.

“Poetry of the Air: A Collection of Love Letters from Musicians to Music,” by Gary Hill, is a collection of exclusive interviews with musicians from across the globe. It includes an array of contributors, some already familiar to the average reader, and even those who don’t follow popular music. Among local notables are Clark Colborn and Cheap Trick’s Bun E. Carlos and musings from Tony Levin (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel), Steve Hackett (Genesis) and James Lee Stanley, whose ties to the state line go back more than 30 years, when he was a Charlotte’s Web staple. From prog rock to folk, Hill’s spectrum of artists is as wide as it can be.

“I wanted to get insights from musicians across a wide range of musical styles, eras, and levels of success,” Hill said. “I thought it would be more interesting to see a wide cross section versus just one style of music or one era.”

As a musician and a music journalist, Hill said he realized over time that his years in the business involved a multitude of conversations about what truly moves people. There was a palpable passion in those conversations that went exponentially beyond the songs and the stories behind them.

“I thought it would be great to interview musicians,” Hill said. “It makes sense that they are more passionate about music than the average person – passionate about the music they like, particularly from the early days when it still had that innocent sort of magic.”

Stanley, in Chapter 78, recounts how he was captured by such magic and catapulted into a world of sound:

“I remember being really little and waiting in the car with my mom as my dad went into some store. A song came on the radio with the lyric ‘see the pyramids along the Nile,’ and for some reason, I was transfixed. Later, I remember feeling the same way about ‘Be Bop a Lula.’”

The magic, hence the book’s title, floats through time, the airwaves, Hill said, creating everything from emotions to memories so intertwined they define eras, politics, and elements of the human condition. It is what defined Hill’s musical taste that moves from Elton John to Black Sabbath.

Fellow author Heath Alberts called “Poetry of the Air,” a “must-have for the serious music enthusiast.”

Other artists who contributed include Jon Anderson (Yes, ABWH, Jon and Vangeli, and more), Allan Atkins (Judas Priest, Atkins May Project), Toren Atkinson (The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets), Leon Alvardo, Jerry Gaskill (King’s X) and Albert Bouchard (Blue Oyster Cult and more).

Hill is also the author of the acclaimed book, “Strange Sound of Cthulhu: Music Inspired by the Writing of H.P. Lovecraft,” and the creator of the music website, Music Street Journal (

“Poetry of the Air: A Collection of Love Letters from Musicians to Music” is available at Toad Hall in Rockford,, and Amazon.


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