The Poetry of Jerry Johnson set to Music

by Jon Gailmor and Pete Sutherland

One dream Jerry had for many years was to have someone put his poems into music. Jon Gailmor and Pete Sutherland, two of Vermont’s most beloved troubadours, helped him fulfill that dream. Jon and Pete took 16 of his poems and set them to music. They captured in song on an album of beautiful contemporary folk music what Jerry wanted each poem to say. Their voices and instruments ring with a crisp, uncommon clarity and engaging musicality, while Jerry’s words from the Northeast Kingdom are authentic and revealing of a life led fully in the embrace of this land of all seasons, secured with his first-person knowing of what it means to live a life found nowhere else.
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The resulting CD has received some wonderful statements from well-known poets and writers:

“Jerry Johnson has the true songwriter’s gift: his lyrics seem so simple, but that’s a deception. The more one listens — and the tunes are brilliantly served by the excellent Jon Gailmor and Pete Sutherland — the deeper they get. What a pleasure this album is! ”
— Sydney Lea, Poet Laureate of Vermont
“Jerry Johnson’s poems and the music of Jon Gailmor and Pete Sutherland are a lyrical celebration of the ‘Vermont Tradition’ at its best.”
— Howard Frank Mosher, acclaimed Vermont author
“Jerry Johnson turned tunesmiths Jon Gailmor and Pete Sutherland loose on sixteen of his best Vermont poems: the result is a joyful blend of meditations and hoopla, with guitars, piano, banjo, fiddle, and melodies as original as the poems they celebrate. Noah’s Song captures just the right balance of reverence and silliness: any youngster (and most adults) will quickly fall in love with it! Jon Gailmor’s spirited voice and lively guitar lift Jerry Johnson’s poem into the company of unforgettable children’s songs.”
— Geof Hewitt, author of The Perfect Heart: Selected & New Poems
“These poems employ a host of techniques to bring us into a wonderful world: rhymes, rhythms, half-rhymes, unexpected images, familiar and unexpected turnings. Like the best lyrical poetry of all ages, the poems locate our hearts in a particular place. In this case, it’s rural Vermont with all its beauty, hard-work, joys and sorrows. Set to the music of Jon Gailmor and Pete Sutherland, the poems are at once fresh, inviting, heart-felt and familiar. They resonate with real life. Noah’s Song is a bestiary of delight! It takes us down a joyful path into the multiplicities of life.”
— Ray Hudson, author of Moments Rightly Placed: An Aleutian Memoir