Top 10 Night Ranger Songs
Night Ranger certainly did their part to provide one hell of a soundtrack for the big hair generation, writing numerous rocktastic hook-filled hits during the ‘80s. As we discovered when making this list of the Top 10 Best Night Ranger songs, it’s awfully hard to whittle it down -- there’s a lot of great songs to choose from. Hope you like what we ended up with, now let's get motorin'.
When Night Ranger went into record their 2011 studio album ‘Somewhere in California,’ they just wanted to jam out with no preconceived ideas and capture an album that would sound like “classic Night Ranger.” It’s clear that they hit that mark, as their seemingly ageless trademark harmonies lay in over the top of a big thick wall of guitars on ‘Growin’ Up In California.’ It’s the perfect soundtrack for a carefree summertime drive on the open road with the radio turned up loud.
It’s almost like a game of cat vs. mouse, hearing the interactive way that Kelly Keagy’s drumming trades against the guitar riffing of Night Ranger guitarists Brad Gillis and Jeff Watson. At certain points, Keagy plays the drums like a lead instrument, pushing the song forward in the same way that a main guitar part would normally do. ‘Sing Me Away’ was Keagy’s first lead vocal on a Night Ranger album and it’s become a signature song for the group’s live show.
Night Ranger has always had a knack for telling a good story, something which is proven in the storyline of ‘Eddie’s Comin’ Out Tonight,’ a backstreet tale from the band’s 1982 debut ‘Dawn Patrol.’ Our “Eddie” enjoys the “tenderloin life” (which probably means he likes steaks a lot - we’re going with that definition) and loves to cause his share of trouble with the pretty girl who “never ever says no.” He also likes to rock -- all night long. And in the ‘80s, who didn’t?
Jeff Watson’s intricate acoustic guitar work enlivens the opening moments of ‘Goodbye,’ a track that bassist/vocalist Jack Blades was inspired to write after tragically losing his brother to a drug overdose. As he was working to come to grips with the loss, he woke up one morning with the song idea for ‘Goodbye’ and as he recalls, 20 minutes later, he had a song which captured the way he was feeling. He calls it a “healing” track, and it's clearly had a similar positive effect for fans who have heard it over the years while dealing with their own times of trouble.
Sometimes the inspiration for a song comes from the simplest places, which is the case when it comes to ‘Four In The Morning.’ Jack Blades woke up with a lyric in his head, “I can’t take anymore/ I can’t fake anymore/ It’s such a hard time loving you” and knew that he had a song brewing, but he was stumped on a title. As he looked at the clock, he realized it was 4am, which brought additional lyrics flowing out, “four in the morning/ came without a warning” and suddenly, he had both a song and a title to go along with it.
‘When You Close Your Eyes’ features Jack Blades and Kelly Keagy trading off on the vocals and benefits from lyrics that have a universal appeal, recalling past romance with a person who slipped away and the unforgettable moments that are left behind. During a 1983 interview on American Bandstand, Blades shared the inner science behind choosing who would handle lead vocals on a particular track. Talking with Dick Clark, Blades joked that he and Keagy would wrestle each other “to find out who sings what.”
The beginning of ‘Sentimental Street’ is almost cinematic, built up by dramatic keyboard flourishes grappling with percussive accompaniment, eventually falling away to reveal an earnestly stark vocal from Kelly Keagy. When Keagy sings “I’ve been kicked so many times/ I don’t know nothin’ else,” you believe him. But just remember he had sold a million albums by that point. So life wasn’t that bad. Although there might not be anything new, we always like the idea of spending time on Sentimental Street.
In the world of Night Ranger, why have only one lead guitar player when you could have two? Brad Gillis and Jeff Watson shared the lead duties in the group and often, as was the case with 'Don’t Tell Me You Love Me,’ they would combine forces for the greater good of rock and roll. This memorable Ranger staple finds the pair tag team smoking their way through two guitar solos back to back, eventually ceding the moment to keyboardist Alan “Fitz” Fitzgerald to cool things down.
Like any good ‘80s band, Night Ranger have written quite a few songs which involve rocking. We’ve already covered ‘Eddie’s Comin’ Out Tonight’ and there was also ‘This Boy Needs To Rock,’ but at the top of the rockin’ heap, you’ve got ‘(You Can Still) Rock In America.’ As Brad Gillis told us, the birth of ‘Rock’ came about, because Jack Blades heard people saying that rock was dead and he took offense. He said “How can it be dead? We’re selling out 15 thousand seaters! Rock isn’t dead! 30 years later, Night Ranger continues to do their duty to let people know that you can still rock, no matter where you are, but especially in America.
Our favorite Night Ranger song owes a little bit of credit to Bruce Springsteen. As Kelly Keagy shares with us, he was listening to a lot of Springsteen while writing ‘Sister Christian’ and when he heard ‘Racing In The Streets,’ he said “man, I want to write a song like that.” The actual lyrical inspiration for the song would come courtesy of his younger sister Christy, who at the time was 16 years old and still in school. Sharing the song with his bandmates, the future monster ballad would undergo a slight but very important change, thanks to a key moment of selective hearing. “Sister Christy? We thought you were saying Sister Christian! We all kind of looked at each other and said that's better!”