Dreaming the Future

Dreaming the Future

Vocalist Eliza Gilkyson looks for hope in turbulent times.

Photo credt: Scott Newton

Austin, Texas’s Eliza Gilkyson is a Grammy-nominated folk singer/songwriter and an activist for social and environmental change. She displays her brooding, contemplative side on her latest album, The Nocturne Diaries.

Are there certain conditions that inspire you to write songs?

I teach songwriting classes at my place in Taos, and one of the first things I tell my students is turn off the dang TV, computer, iPod, etc. You have to sit through some discomfort before the muses enter. Most of the time we go through the day avoiding that discomfort. But that’s the hidden door to the secret garden: feel your discomfort, and as you pass through it, the creative urge flares. Then you have to have some self-discipline to go where it leads you. For me, it’s mostly about clearing the decks.

You came of age in the ’60s. What sort of influence did your early exposure to that era’s counterculture have on your music?

If you lined my albums and CDs up end to end, it would probably mirror the story of my generation—our loftiest ideals and rudest awakenings. I am still in the process of chronicling that long, strange trip!

Is there a primary message to your music?

I would like to inspire a new perspective on who we think we are as a human family. If we can’t honestly assess where we are right now in this time on earth, then we can’t possibly dream a future. I think we fight very hard for beliefs that are often created out of fear and ignorance, and then we wage war and battle over ideologies rather than consider where we are stuck. The good news is that all around us is the potential for community. I think we’re seeing that all over the world today. That does give me hope.

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