Lorrie Morgan Honors Late Husband Keith Whitley With Heartfelt Rendition Of ‘Don’t Close Your Eyes’

Morgan says this is one of her “favorite Keith Whitley songs to sing.”

By

Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

February 17, 2024

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Lorrie Morgan, Keith Whitley; Photos Courtesy Facebook

Lorrie Morgan pays tribute to her late husband Keith Whitley with a sentimental cover of his emotional 1988 hit, “Don’t Close Your Eyes.”

In a clip posted to her Instagram account, Morgan is seen plucking the guitar while lending her comforting vocals to the opening of the tune penned by Bob McDill, which she dubs one of her “favorite Keith Whitley songs to sing.”

“I know you loved him/ A long time ago/ Even now in my arms/ You still want him, I know/ But darling this time/ Let your memories die/ When you hold me tonight/ Don’t close your eyes,” she delivers on the first verse.

Lorrie Morgan Covers Keith Whitley

Continuing onto the chorus, Morgan unleashes the heartbreaking story of a man who firmly believes that his love interest still has feelings for an old flame and even as he holds her in his arms, he never lets go of the hope that one day she will be fully his. 

She sings, “Don’t close your eyes / Let it be me / Don’t pretend it’s him / In some fantasy / Darling, just once let yesterday go / And you’ll find more love / Than you’ve ever known / Just hold me tight / When you love me tonight / And don’t close your eyes.”

Keith Whitley; Photo via Facebook
Keith Whitley; Photo via Facebook

Her acoustic performance deeply resonated with fans as they took to the comments section to share their love of the song. Many also thanked Morgan for keeping Whitley’s memory alive.

“Thank you Lorie for sharing your incredible talent with us and singing one of the best songs ever by one of the best singers ever,” wrote one Instagram user. Another shared, “It’s always good to hear you sing and I appreciate you singing Keith’s songs, especially ‘Don’t Close Your Eyes.’”

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The History Of “Don’t Close Your Eyes”

The release of “Don’t Close Your Eyes” followed the Sandy Hook, Kentucky native’s debut album, L.A. to Miami, and serves as the title track to his second studio album. Upon its debut in 1988, the track soared to the top spot on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and was named the biggest country hit of the year. The project also spawned his incredibly well-known tune, “When You Say Nothing At All” as well as “I’m No Stranger to the Rain,” which was named the CMA Single of the Year in 1989.

Keith Whitley; Photo via Instagram
Keith Whitley; Photo via Instagram

What Happened To Keith Whitley?

The success of “Don’t Close Your Eyes” came just months before Whitley died of alcohol poisoning at the age of 33. On May 9, 1989, his brother-in-law, Lane Palmer, discovered that Whitley was dead in his bed with a blood alcohol of .47. At the time, it was revealed that the pair had made plans to have lunch and golf together later in the day. 

Was Lorrie Morgan Still Married To Keith Whitley When He Died?

In the midst of his brief career in country music (1984 to 1989), Whitley tied the knot with his second wife, Lorrie Morgan, who is also a renowned country artist. Sadly, the couple was married for less than three years before Whitley’s passing. They were married until Whitley’s untimely death.

Whitley is survived by his wife as well as a son, Jesse Keith Whitley, and a stepdaughter, Morgan, whom he adopted.

Lorrie Morgan; Photo by John Russell, CMA
Lorrie Morgan; Photo by John Russell, CMA

Keith Whitley Gets Inducted Into The Country Music Hall Of Fame

In May of 2022, Lorrie Morgan got the chance to celebrate her late husband’s career achievements during the unveiling of the 2022 Country Music Hall of Fame inductees. The hosts for the evening, Country Music Hall of Fame members Brooks & Dunn, were on hand to help honor Whitley by officially inducting him into the Country Music Hall of Fame in the Modern Era Artist category. Morgan accepted the honor on Whitley’s behalf.

This honor was further proof that Keith Whitley left behind a lasting legacy in country music that continues to influence artists and country music lovers to this day. He racked up a total of 19 singles on the Billboard country charts along with five consecutive Number Ones. His fourth and final album, I Wonder Do You Think Of Me was unveiled posthumously and ended up climbing to No. 2 on the charts.

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.