Flashback! Big hair, mullets, spandex, vibrant colors, and teens rock’n to Night Ranger! I was still very young and just getting into the cool rock bands – Styx, REO Speedwagon, AC/DC, Scorpions, Van Halen, Aerosmith, and of course Bon Jovi! Dear friend of mine first introduced me to the group. Taking his cassette tape, he pops it in and When You Close Your Eyes played, I was hooked. I made him play it over at least three times.
The very next day I bought the Midnight Madness album. I had a scarce collection of cassette tapes, so when I took a trip to Greece back in 1984, the only music I brought with me was Night Ranger. The airflight was a 24hr excursion and I was there for an entire month. By the time I returned, I was able to cite every word, knew the order the songs came on, knew when the bridge was coming.
Making their peak of popularity in the mid 80’s , Night Ranger has hits that still rock generations: Sister Christian, patriotic tribute–(You Can Still) Rock in America, Don’t Tell Me You Love Me, Sentimental Street, and the beautifully crafted tribute to lost loves–Goodbye. Night Ranger has made their way back to Portland again where these memories came flooding back. When You Close Your Eyes has always remained one of my ultimate all time favorite songs fostering intense emotions.
Tracing their history, former band members of Rubicon Jack Blades (bassist) enlisted Kelly Keagy(drummer) and Brad Gillis (guitarist) to form a trio performing under the name Stereo. Adding to the mix was Alan Fitzgerald (keyboardist) and rounding off the group was Jeff Watson (guitarist). In 1982, the band was officially deemed Night Ranger.
Riding out the decade, Night Ranger faced their share of struggles with harsh critics comparing them to the likes of Motley Crue and Ratt. Despite the negative feedback, the fans proved this band was not going away anytime soon. Winning females over with the heartfelt lyrics, and the respect of performances of guitarists Gillis and Watson, Night Ranger pumped out continual hit songs making them one of the iconic bands of the 80’s.
Quote from Songfacts that explains the inspiration behind Jack Blades lyrics to When You Close Your Eyes:
“I thought about my old girlfriend, where we split up, and I wonder if she ever thinks about the past, and all these things you went through when you were growing up, and all these things you did when you were together, and your first love, and the first woman that I made love to. And then everybody moves on in their lives, and you just go in separate ways. And I always wondered, ‘When you close your eyes, do you think about me?’ So I finished the lyrics, flew back on Monday, and sang all the words.”
Night Ranger carries nostalgic memories for me. I want to send a personal acknowledgement to Jack and say thank you for creating a song that captures the reminiscing we all experience from time to time.