American Top 40 PastBlast, 9/29/84: Night Ranger, “When You Close Your Eyes”

Fall of my junior year of college found me already taking concrete steps toward a full commitment to future study in math. I would still complete the coursework for a computer science major, but I’d be double-dipping where I could—that is, any time I was able to count a math course toward the CS major, I did. Two of my three math classes this term fit that bill. To round out my schedule, I had History of Philosophy I, to fulfill a distribution requirement, and Creative Writing, to scratch an itch.

Even though the writing class was worthwhile, I was by no means mature enough to advance my craft much in it. The bulk of my product was too-thinly-disguised autobiography that pretended to be fiction—a common amateur writer’s error, I suspect—and yes, for some reason I still have it all. Probably like just about any other class of the type, we journaled, we jotted down what we could remember of dreams, we eavesdropped on conversations to try to get a greater feel for dialogue (something I never grasped), and we workshopped our drafts a couple of times. I came out with an A, but that could mean the grade was based solely on participation and submitting something for all assignments. 

Maybe it was just that life moved at a different pace after taking the class, but it’d be over three decades before I wrote all that much in earnest, still all-too-autobiographical, but forgoing stilted dialogue.

MTV jumped many sharks on its way from 100% to 0% music video content. Perhaps the first was the introduction of MTV Exclusive Videos, a practice that I seem to recall beginning around August of 84. I guess the competition for content that made one stand out was fierce in those days? Presumably, the suits offered studios some additional filthy lucre if they let MTV be the only outlet for new releases for a few weeks. The ones I can remember having this status initially were all second or third releases: Rod Stewart’s cover of “Some Guys Have All the Luck,” the Eurythmics’ salsa-tinged “Right By Your Side,” and Night Ranger’s “When You Close Your Eyes.” Martha, JJ, and the rest all began breathlessly talking up the “you can see it only here” angle at the top of every hour. How they handled this concept morphed over time, and maybe they eventually landed bigger fish; for a while it was definitely a thing. 

Night Ranger’s run of six Top 40 songs fits neatly inside my college years, from “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” in freshman March to “Goodbye” in senior February. Why did the hits dry up? Their Wiki page posits an interesting theory about their late 80s market space being jammed by pop schlock from Bon Jovi and Poison on one side, and the more metal-ish stuff of Guns ‘n’ Roses and their ilk on the other. Could be, but that might just be an excuse, too.

I wasn’t especially keen on “When You Close Your Eyes” (at its peak of #14 on this show) at the time—“Sister Christian” had been much more my scene—but maybe age has warmed me up to it a little. It’s still guitar rock that’s plenty formulaic and disposable, I know—perhaps there’s nostalgia for days long gone kicking in.

Jack Blades, Brad Gillis, and Kelly Keagy still tour as Night Ranger, along with a couple guys who joined them earlier this decade.

4 thoughts on “American Top 40 PastBlast, 9/29/84: Night Ranger, “When You Close Your Eyes””

    1. Thanks for the link! I’d come across another article in that series (for John Waite’s “Change”) about three years ago–this one was much more detailed and interesting.

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