Dillon Carmichael shows Keith Whitley's classic "Don't Close Your Eyes" the respect it deserves with this intimate acoustic cover performance. The legend lives on 30 years after his death.

Carmichael is a country traditionalist with a pedigree, so the importance of the anguished love song isn't lost on him. Every note of the ballad gets his full attention, even though he's played it a thousand times. In fact, Whitley's "Don't Close Your Eyes" was one of the first songs he learned on guitar.

"I think that all aspects of Keith Whitley people love," he tells Taste of Country.
"What I mean by that is if you’ve heard a Keith Whitley song one time, you love it. If you’ve heard it 100,000 times, you still love it. It never gets old." 

It's hard to disagree with him. Even fans who grew up listening to the original version of this popular chart-topper from 1988 will find something new to appreciate with Carmichael's version. The "Dancing Away With My Heart" singer slows the tempo down slightly, and his voice is naturally deeper than Whitley's. Both mean clearly mean every word.

"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'll ever know / Just hold me tight, when you love me tonight / And don't close your eyes," Carmichael sings. 

"Dancing Away With My Heart" is Carmichael's first single from his Hell on an Angel album, produced by Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton). The former Grand Ole Opry security guard is Eddie and John Michael Montgomery's nephew and he says the two men gave him good advice but hardly paved the way for him to become a country star. The Kentucky native is working for it like they did, like legends like their collective hero Whitley did.

Here Are Keith Whitley's Top 10 Songs

Keith Whitley died on May 9, 1989, but his music lives on. The traditional country singer's smooth baritone-tenor marks his best songs from a half-decade worth of records and many more years' worth of proper romanticizing. Whitley is perhaps more cherished by the current generation of country stars than he was at the time of his death, leading to his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2022.

Radio hits, an under-appreciated album cut, a vintage cover song and one fine duet mark this list of the Top 10 Keith Whitley songs.

Watch Jimmie Allen's RISERS Performance of "Make Me Want To"

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