5 Songs That Defined Keith Whitley’s Career

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Keith Whitley Left Behind An Extensive Catalog Of Songs That Ensure He Will Never Be Forgotten

Keith Whitley left behind many great songs. These songs have allowed his legacy and influence to continue, even long after he left this world.

All too often in the music world, a talented artist leaves us far before their time. However, although they may be gone, the music they leave behind allows their legacy to prosper for new generations.

On May 9, 1989, country music lost one of its brightest stars…Keith Whitley.

Over the course of his career, which was just short of two decades, Whitley touched country fans worldwide with beautiful songs such as “Don’t Close Your Eyes” and “When You Say Nothing At All.”

Keith Whitley recorded many timeless songs during his short time on Earth
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Even now, decades after Whitley’s passing, he continues to influence a new generation of country artists. Whitley continues to live on through their voices and his timeless songs.

In honor of Whitley’s outstanding talent and music, we’ve compiled a list of five of his best songs. 

See Our List Of Great Keith Whitley Songs Below, Ranked In No Particular Order

5. “I’m No Stranger To The Rain”

Released in January 1959 off of the album Don’t Close Your Eyes, “I’m No Stranger to the Rain” was the last single released before Whitley passed away. As a result, the song ended up skyrocketing to the top of the country charts in both the U.S. and Canada. 

The song’s narrator conveys that he’s had a rough life, but he’s grown used to it over time. As a result, he feels confident he’ll be able to endure his current hardships and find some happiness in life, as he sings “I’m no stranger to the rain. But there’ll always be tomorrow. And I’ll beg, steal, or borrow a little sunshine. And I’ll put this cloud behind me.

Considering that “I’m No Stranger to the Rain” became the last single Whitley released before he died, the song is somewhat haunting.

4. “Tell Lorrie I Love Her”

After Whitley’s death, a Greatest Hits collection of some of his most successful songs was released. The album also contained two new songs from Whitley, including the incredibly personal track “Tell Lorrie I Love Her.”

Whitley wrote and recorded the song at home for his wife and fellow country star Lorrie Morgan. He originally recorded the song so his friend Curtis Young could sing it during his wedding to Morgan.

The song serves as Whitley’s letter of devotion to Morgan, saying that his dying wish would be to let her know how much she means to him. As he sings “Tell Lorrie I love her, tell Lorrie I need her. And if I leave this whole world, tell her she’s the only girl for me.

3. “‘Til A Tear Becomes A Rose”

Yet another posthumously released song of Whitley’s, “‘Til a Tear Becomes a Rose” was the second new track included on his Greatest Hits album. The song was also the only single released from the album and peaked at the 14th spot on the Billboard country charts.

Whitley recorded the song as a duet with Morgan, which was their first together. The song earned the couple the Vocal Event of the Year award at the CMA Awards, which was an emotional moment for Morgan.

Coincidentally, the song serves as Whitley’s message to Morgan to keep going even after he’s gone. As the narrator, Whitley witnesses his love suffering through pain, so he tries to comfort her with his touching words, singing “In your heart I know a sorrow grows. But if you weep I’ll be right here to hold you.’Til each tear you cry becomes a rose.

2. “Don’t Close Your Eyes”

A #1 single for Whitley, “Don’t Close Your Eyes” has since sold over 300,000 digital copies alone. Released as the third single from Whitley’s final album, Billboard named it the #1 country song for all of 1988.

As expected, due to the success of “Don’t Close Your Eyes,” it has become one of Whitley’s signature songs.

The narrator sings to his love, as he worries that she is still thinking about her former flame. He encourages her to do her best to forget about the past and focus only on him as he sings, “Don’t close your eyes. Let it be me. Don’t pretend it’s him, in some fantasy.

1. “When You Say Nothing At All”

Whitley’s most memorable song, “When You Say Nothing At All,” became the fourth single from Don’t Close Your Eyes. Like the album’s title track, “When You Say Nothing At All” hit #1 on the Billboard country charts, and stayed there for two weeks.

Today, Whitley’s version of the song is regarded as one of the greatest country love songs ever. CMT further supported this by placing the song in the 12th spot on their 100 Greatest Love Songs list in 2004.

Many other artists recorded the song over the years, including Alison Krauss. But no version is more beloved than Whitley’s. The way he delivers the lyrics with his soft, almost whisper-like voice comes across so sweet and sincere, as he sings “A touch of your hand says you’ll catch me if ever I fall. Now you say it best, when you say nothing at all.

A great talent was lost on the day Whitley passed away. But he will always be remembered through his beautiful songs.