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MP3 Eliot Tucker - Isn't That Me

A remarkable Christian music album -- the lyrics and music simply soar.

10 MP3 Songs
SPIRITUAL: Contemporary Christian, SPIRITUAL: Christian Rock

Eliot Tucker is my dear brother in Christ, and my comrade of artist’s heart. I have often heard him summarize his journey to Calvary by saying, “Jesus met me right where I was!”

This simple but brightly-lit statement was a part of the warm impression I gained of Eliot during our very first conversation. I was moved to hear another man speak about my Jesus in a way that was new to my practiced ears. In the years I’ve known Eliot Tucker, and have come to see him as a gift-friend from God, I can avow that my humble brother has spoken many new words of insight to me about Jesus. Eliot has a gift of minting phrases – not “coining” them – but offering freshly “minted” thoughts about the Lord Jesus. This is one of his unique gifts and wondrous talents.

It is immensely encouraging as I watch Eliot living his life. Since his acceptance of Christ some twenty-plus years past, God has taught Eliot the lessons of His Faithfulness. It is as Eliot says, “We are all part of the same classroom; and we cannot fail an examination but that God does not softly whisper to us, “My Child – choose again; simply, choose again.”

Eliot says, “Jesus met me as I was and where I was, so that I might learn that I wanted to be where He was.” I can well affirm that Eliot, and his music, are right where God is! There is no flair of drama in having said these things about the man or of the man’s work. Those who have followed his music all agree that the Lord leads while Eliot writes his songs. His music is a revealing challenge to where the Body of Christ ought to be during these “perilous times”. His songs offer a unique encouragement and a welcome vista of Christ-offered hope.

An illuminating story I know of Eliot, involves his being from the “Sunshine State” (Florida) where, from the beginning of June until November, there is an ever-present, if unofficial, “hurricane watch”.

In 1964, Hurricane Dora came screaming up the coastline of Florida and decided that Jacksonville would be her focused landfall. With all else her terrible winds accomplished, she deposited a waterlogged, badly beaten guitar in the driveway of one of Eliot’s friends. This friend called, suggesting that they learn how to play it. With no school, due to the storm and because “Monopoly Burnout” had taken a firm hold, Eliot agreed to come over. In the lives of little boys, God’s hand is not so readily seen. In the lives of these two Jewish boys, God was about to show himself far mightier than Dora’s passing storm.

After looking for a first song they might learn to play, inexplicably, the only one that seemed simple enough, found in an old folk-song book was, “Were You There, When They Crucified My Lord?” Isn’t that just like the Lord? He took two young boys right where they were, and taught them to sing a song that begs the question above all questions, especially considering the young Jewish mind: “Where were you when Jesus died?” To this day Eliot smiles at the irony and blessing of those hurricane winds. He has, in his life, seen the same pattern repeated many times: “An unexpected blessing from an unexpected storm.” Somewhere in this early experience, the seed was surely sewn for what would be one of his most endearing songs, “O Wind Of God”, written in 2005.

A year after Hurricane Dora, Eliot wrote his first song, and his first audience was a group of teens gathered around a summer campfire. They gave such loud and sustained approval, that Eliot could not help but be affected by the response. A man of music seemed to have been born!

As with all of God’s children, it is hard for the child to know the depth of interplay and the participation in his life by his Creator. So, Eliot gave genesis, while singing around that campfire, to his own “self”; and nurturing this new “esteem”, and new “self worth”, he stepped out into young-adult life, taking and thus giving credit to the wrong creator. And since it is a great truth that God is patient, in no special hurry, the Lord permitted Eliot to follow his own way; to embrace this self-imposed obstacle for the next nineteen years. Before Jesus.

· · ·

In those years, Providence sent many opportunities to the young musician. There was the meeting in Los Angeles with the British Group, The Hollies, one of the “hottest” Pop-Rock groups of that era. It was decided that their manager would also become Eliot’s. What followed surely must have seemed a leap to immediate success! -- one day in Los Angeles, the next day, meeting with the head of CBS Records in New York, and the day following, in London preparing to record his original songs with the Hollies as backing musicians. It was anticipated by all involved that after his recordings were completed, there would be a contract with Epic Records, the CBS label under which the Hollies were having such successes as, He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother, Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress and The Air That I Breathe. But, that same guiding hand of Providence seemed not to be so obvious to him when months later, the head of CBS Records left for another company, and with his leaving, CBS’interest in Eliot seemed to have left as well.

The 1970s turned out to be some fairly painful ones for the self-assumed “golden boy”, who’d been certain he was heading, uninterrupted, toward success. That first disappointment – and any disappointment had been completely unexpected -- was a devastating blow to the “self” esteem; a definite attack against the “self” worth and “confidence” first invented around that summer campfire. By now, he had come to define himself almost completely as and by his music. It was his “firm foundation”; a foundation now seeming no longer worthy of the term.

But, Providence continued to evidence itself in his life. Johnny Mathis recorded one of his songs, and Eliot signed a three-year contract with Warner Brothers Music as a staff writer. It was understood that he would start off writing for other artists; then, if all went as expected, he would come into a recording contract of his own. But, with different Aims and for His Purposes, God’s Spirit moved the wind in a different direction. During his tenure at Warner Brothers, no song written by Eliot was ever recorded, by anyone.

· · ·

So, discouraged but not quite defeated, Eliot took a job managing the parking lot at the Miramar Sheraton Hotel in Santa Monica. With a tired soul, he crammed his remnant keyboard of minimal musical success into the glass booth there, and quietly continued to write his songs. And with each song written, he yet imagined the possibility, the glimmer-hint of some new “self” esteem and a renewed “self” confidence.

The truth, however, more felt than recognized, was that step by progressive step, Eliot had lost confidence in his “self’s” songwriting. What had once surely seemed the tool for finding happiness, seemed now to have become the device of his spiritual pain. But, if his songwriting had failed, then where, pray tell, might lie a different direction?

“I remember one afternoon”, he recalls, “I was sitting in the booth at the parking lot,tears streaming down my face, hoping no cars would come out before I could recover. I was completely frustrated. I was miserable. A part of me was still convinced that the key to my happiness was having a hit song. But then, to complicate things I was becoming aware of another part of me, which was, almost audibly, saying – praying -- ‘God, please don’t let me find success until I’m happy first’. There was definitely a battle going on that I didn’t understand.”

In these wilderness-booth days, had Jesus brought commercial success to Eliot’s writing style, he would never have begun to explore the need for a new song in his heart; might never have heard its yearning for discovery and birth. Through these difficult days, God was preparing Eliot to ask questions about eternity; about his spiritual deadness. God was ever-patient, ever-waiting for Eliot to want to discover The Truth: That the Lord’s provision and power of new birth would come through Jesus.

Though he continued to write, it was considerably less than before; all the while, watching the people in their cars passing by his booth; each, he was sure, traveling within a much happier world than he.

Then, one afternoon, a memory of the Henry David Thoreau book, Walden, popped into his head. “A friend had once recommended it”, Eliot recalls. “I think the reason it came to me then was that I remembered it being something about a lost soul who finds himself -- and happiness maybe?” So, after work that day, he walked the few blocks from the parking lot to the Santa Monica Mall, where there were two bookstores – each at an opposite end of the shopping center. He went to the closest one, immediately found the book, Walden, and headed toward the checkout counter. But before it was his turn at the register, oddly, something compelled him to put the book back; and further, to go to the bookstore at the other end of the mall to buy the same book there. What was that about?

He walked the length of the mall, and in that other bookstore, in looking for Walden, he picked up several books; one in particular he recalls flipping through until he came to the name Jesus. And he put the book down.

“Most people, who are not Jewish”, Eliot explains, “do not understand the relationship Jews have to Jesus – even to the name ‘Jesus’. Because Jews are ‘born’ Jewish, we make the assumption that whoever isn’t born Jewish, must be born Christian. The thinking from there, though mostly unspoken, is that everyone who’s Jewish is in one camp and everyone else is in the other camp. That Christian camp, then, includes the likes of the Cossacks of Russia, Hitler – literally, everyone else who isn’t Jewish. It certainly includes Jesus. Jesus has become, in the minds of Jewish people, the ultimate symbol of non-Jewish-ness; which is a terribly sad irony.”

Eliot continues, “What happens, then -- when a true Christian tries to introduce Christ to a Jewish person, with the hope of sharing Salvation -- is that the attempted introduction is typically seen by the Jew as nothing less than another attack. It is seen as the ancient ‘Christian’ intent, so he believes, of trying to get rid of the Jews; in this case, by conversion. Unless the Christian understands this, the barrier to that sweet intent of sharing Jesus with the Jewish people will hardly ever be overcome.”

For Eliot, however, because of the spiritual pain that seemed to define his life; because of the need for “any kind of peace”, as he recalls, that contact with the name of Jesus, in a book he wasn’t looking for, resonated with him in some new way. There was, in his mind now, an openness, if not, a kind of desperation, that he’d never experienced before.

Over the next few months, he found himself pursuing an informal, but from his perspective today, a God-directed course of study. It included listening to tapes a Christian friend had given him of a favorite pastor’s sermons. And as Eliot began to hear the Voice within him, he began to fall in love with the message of Christ’s teaching.

That was in 1984, when Eliot found himself listening to the Gospel Message of the Lord Jesus Christ. And it was in September of that year, that he came to accept Jesus as his Savior; the One long-promised to the Jewish people.

· · ·

Over the next ten years, he continued to write. There were a few recordings – one by the musical family The Jets, of, “All Alone On Christmas Eve”; another song recorded by Frankie Laine, “Fly Away”, and various others of his songs appeared in TV movies and in the feature film, “Tank”.

Eliot recalls, “At the time, my songs being recorded just didn’t seem to mean as much as I thought it should. I hadn’t realized it yet, but writing secular songs, the only kind I’d ever written, was no longer where my heart was. Still, I continued to write them -- or to try. Something strange had begun to happen. I would start a song, sometimes getting to the last line, or even to the last few words, and then the process would stop. I really didn’t understand what that was about. I had felt pretty certain that God had given me a gift for songwriting but suddenly, I didn’t seem to be able to use it. Looking back, I believe it was because I was trying to write from where my heart used to be, and not from where it had, thankfully, come to.”

God was teaching Eliot that Purpose comes before power; that in God’s timing, Eliot would soon be given a larger Purpose to bless the gift of song he had indeed been given.

“The reason I wrote songs to begin with was to try to understand human relationships, especially romantic love relationships. But I was becoming less and less convinced that my happiness depended upon my understanding of anything -- outside of the only true relationship – the one between Jesus and me. I was learning that any other relationship in my life was simply a reflection of where I was, or was not, in my relationship with Him.”

One day, in 2002, after long-having assumed that his singer-songwriter career was placed in the past, Eliot wrote down the line, “I may let go Your hand, but You never let go of mine”. Those words would become the inspired foundation for a new song, There is Someone Who Loves Me.

“When I wrote that first non-secular song, ''There Is Someone Who Loves Me'', what I experienced was far more than the excitement I’d felt after writing my first song at the age of fifteen – or really, any of the other songs I’d written after that. I had the feeling, at last, that if God had given me a gift for songwriting, I now knew why. And that all I’d been through -- the confusion, the disappointment – those feelings hadn’t come from not having had great commercial success; they had come from not having understood the True Use of the gift I felt I’d been given. Finally, my music sounded to me like the new life God had placed in my heart. Finally, my music and His message seemed to be the same. And my songwriting, finally, had been born again”.

Then Eliot smiles, heaves a sigh, and uses a phrase that would become the basis for a song he would later write: “And I knew, I would never be the same.”

· · ·

Well, nine additional songs and five years later, with the continuing encouragement of his family, his church, and his friends, Eliot has now resumed a career once thought to be lost.

“The lost being redeemed”, says Eliot. “There’s something familiar in that . . .”

· · ·

Singer-songwriter Eliot Tucker lives in North Florida with his sweet wife Joyce and grandson Erik. Buster and Mollie rule the backyard, as good Florida watchdogs always do. Emmy and Annie are the cats who rule over everything else, as Florida miniature panthers always do.

Skip Brinkley
St. Augustine, Florida

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