Dierks Bentley – “I Wanna Make You Close Your Eyes”

Andrew Lacy | July 27th, 2009

dierks-bentley-i-wanna-make-you-close-your-eyesDierks Bentley has been riding high on the charts lately, with the first two singles from Feel That Fire reaching #1. So this seems like the perfect time to go for a home run and release either “Beautiful World” or “Last Call,” right? D’oh!

Instead Dierks lays up with the most forgettable single he’s had since “My Last Name”–a single so forgettable, in fact, that I have to listen to it on a constant loop while I’m writing this review just to keep it fresh in my mind. Depending on your perspective, that might be considered a plus.

The lyrics of “I Wanna Make You Close Your Eyes” are decent, though far from exceptional, and could make for an enjoyable experience if the performer acted like he was even remotely interested in what he’s singing.

Bentley has shown a great deal of proficiency on romantic ballads in the past, and when he really wants to he can melt hearts with the format’s best crooners. Here, he sounds as though co-producer Brett Beavers pulled him out of bed early in the morning, put a microphone in front of him and told him to make it quick because Luke Bryan needs to use the studio in 20 minutes. This is what “Come a Little Closer” would sound like if an automaton with no concept of human emotions performed it.

Bentley says he wants to make me close my eyes, and with this song he most certainly did. “I Wanna Make You Close Your Eyes” will be a hit, but as soon as its chart run is over, we’ll all act as though it had never existed. It’s a frustrating development from an artist who has shown a great deal of talent and potential but now seems content to coast in the wake of his past success.

On the plus side, there’s more steel guitar here than most songs in the top 40, so he’s got that going for him.

Thumbs Down

  1. ROGERW
    July 27, 2009 at 9:14 am

    Yes, an uninspired performance of a bland song from an artist who is capable of alot more.

  2. Clemson Brad
    July 27, 2009 at 9:25 am

    I like the song. I agree it’s not his best, but Dierks still makes it enjoyable. I know many girls, especially, love the song.

  3. Stormy
    July 27, 2009 at 9:37 am

    Sorry, I’m bad, but why exactly would I need to close my eyes again?

  4. Chris N.
    July 27, 2009 at 9:40 am

    I think the closed eyes would be part of a hypothetical “O” face.

  5. Jon
    July 27, 2009 at 9:47 am

    “Bentley says he wants to make me close my eyes, and with this song he most certainly did.”

    Funny (if a little obvious) line, but the critique here says virtually nothing about the record other than that the writer failed to detect emotion or inspiration in it, leaving open the question of who’s responsible for that.

  6. Drew
    July 27, 2009 at 10:06 am

    A step in the right direction. The two singles before it were absolutely terrible.

  7. J.R. Journey
    July 27, 2009 at 10:14 am

    I have to go with Drew and say this is a little better than his previous works, though that’s not much.

  8. Jim Malec
    July 27, 2009 at 10:25 am

    It is never the listener’s (or reader’s) fault for not “getting” a work–unless, of course, you’re a modernist…in which case, screw the plebs!

    I think Andrew provided an honest and entertaining take on the single. If we all wrote the same way and with the same tone, this would be a pretty boring publication.

  9. Jon
    July 27, 2009 at 11:05 am

    “It is never the listener’s (or reader’s) fault for not “getting” a work–unless, of course, you’re a modernist…in which case, screw the plebs!”

    Didn’t say it was. But by the same token, if others do “get” it, where does that leave the reviewer who doesn’t? Is he or she less sensitive, or does he or she have a more refined and discriminating – a superior – sensibility? Just which plebes are being screwed?

    So the answer to the question I posed is that emotional connection in art requires two parties, not one, and if it’s not the listener’s fault for failing to detect emotion, it’s not the artist’s fault, either. So a review, honest or not, that simply focuses on such a connection, whether successful or unsuccessful, doesn’t really offer much of value to the reader. And including a complaint that the record label issued as a single something other than what the reviewer thought it should have doesn’t really add much either.

  10. Kelly
    July 27, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Jon – the review does actually discuss what he felt the song sounded like from a overall perspective. i know that actual facts might get in the way of your nit-picking here, but…

    The review states, “Here, he sounds as though co-producer Brett Beavers pulled him out of bed early in the morning, put a microphone in front of him and told him to make it quick because Luke Bryan needs to use the studio in 20 minutes.”

    As a reader, I get a clear impression of what the reviewer is saying he felt on the song’s sound, not just the emotional aspect or connection, truly is.

  11. Jon
    July 27, 2009 at 11:33 am

    Key word there, Kelly, is “felt.” The comment you quote is clearly a part of Andrew’s detection of emotional distance (as the sentences preceding and following it make unmistakably clear), and that detection is, as you say, a feeling that I guarantee isn’t universally felt. The only comment about the song’s sound that doesn’t fall in line with that is the closing one about the steel guitar – there’s an “actual fact” for you – and it comes too late to make much of a difference.

  12. Stormy
    July 27, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Chris: That’s why it makes the petty, little part of me giggle in the way that only a truely bad sexual metaphor can.

  13. Dan Milliken
    July 27, 2009 at 11:38 am

    “Here, he sounds as though co-producer Brett Beavers pulled him out of bed early in the morning, put a microphone in front of him and told him to make it quick because Luke Bryan needs to use the studio in 20 minutes.”

    Lolz.

  14. Leeann Ward
    July 27, 2009 at 11:42 am

    I’m agreeing with Dan.

  15. Kelly
    July 27, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Jon – The key term isnt “felt”, that was simply my way of saying that I, myself, understood what he was getting at. I couldve used any term to convey that I understood his point. “Felt” didnt mean what you are twisting it around into meaning in this case. The word “sounds” is in the actual quote I referred to, and that is the reviewer saying what the song actually sounded like from a big-picture perspective. Since he didnt say that he “felt” the song sounded that way, you’re point is misguided at best…

  16. JD
    July 27, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    I Wanna Make You Close Your Ears

  17. Chris D.
    July 27, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    I wish “Beautiful World” or “Last Call” was released… Hearing Patty Griffin on mainstream country? That would be incredible!

    This song is booooring, very entertaining review. When the review is more entertaining than the song, that’s a problem.

  18. Jon
    July 27, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    Jeez, Kelly, Andrew didn’t say that he “felt” like Dierks was singing with no emotion either; does that mean it’s an “actual fact” or gives a “big-picture perspective” on what the record sounds like to someone else? Sheesh.

  19. Kelly
    July 27, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    Jon, keep sheeshing all you want and keep trying to complicate a rather simple scenario while your at it, i suppopse. I am of the opinion that Andrew did more than discuss an emotional connection, or lack thereof, with the song. That opinion is based upon actual words he wrote in his review. there, thats laid out about as simple as i can do it for ya. jeez, sheesh, golly gee willakers….

  20. Andrew Lacy
    July 27, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    Jeez, you’d think I ran over Jon’s dog or something. I like Dierks, but he’s capable of so much better and was disappointed with this effort. For me to write anything else would be disingenuous.

    Screw the plebes!

  21. Stormy
    July 27, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Andrew, just come clean. You ran over Jon’s dog, didn’t you?

  22. Andrew Lacy
    July 27, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    I can neither confirm nor deny any such allegations.

  23. JD
    July 27, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    I can’t figure out if I’m hearing the theme from the Twilight Zone or the one from the slasher scenes in Friday 13th when I read you guys going back’n’forth. Hahahaha.

  24. Patty
    July 27, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    I can’t believe all the negative comments here. This was one of my favorite songs on the CD, I love it. As far as singing it with no emotion, I think Dierks has a lot of raw emotion in his voice here. He does not have a perfect voice, but uses what he has perfectly. It’s just as good as Come a Little Closer and Settle for a Slowdown and is much better than some of the garbage I hear on country radio these days.

  25. Patty
    July 27, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Oh, and the fact that he doesn’t have a perfect voice all the time just makes him all that much more likeable to me! He’s more real than some singers out there who can’t carry a tune but still manage to get constant radio play.

  26. Chris N.
    July 27, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    It seems like most of Jon’s critiques come down to “I wouldn’t have written it precisely that way.”

  27. ROGER
    July 27, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    I think Dierks is one of the more “real” people in country music today, and he has put out some awesome songs. Settle for a Slowdown is the one song that really made me a big Dierks Bentley fan. Its just that this song sounds sort of ordinary and formulaic, kind of like they sat down while finishing up the album and said, “ok, we’ve got to have a Come A Little Closer/Long Trip Alone type ballad for this one” and then they cranked it out in about 30 minutes and went with it.

  28. Jon
    July 27, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    That’s what everyone’s critiques mostly come down to. Either that or “you’re wrong -and stupid, too.”

  29. Jon
    July 27, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    The more that I think about it, that’s what the reviews here mostly come down to, too.

  30. Rick
    July 27, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    It says a lot about Top 40 country radio when the artists pick some of their weakest songs as singles in order to keep feeding the beast the mediocre musical gruel it craves…

  31. idlewildsouth
    July 27, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    I’m not a huge fan of this song, but I’m also not who he’s singing to.

    As far as choosing this song for a single, as opposed to the more artistically deserving songs on the album (I love “Beautiful World”), I kind of get bored with this gripe. It gets a little cliche at a point to complain that someone puts radio airplay above artistic integrity. At the end of the day, as an artist, they want to keep their good thing going. For one reason, if they keep radio airplay cranked they keep their contract. But even more than that, where is it law that someone is obligated to have artistic integrity? Why is it so wrong for someone to record/release a song with the goal of making a lot of money off of it?

  32. Andrew Lacy
    July 27, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    But even more than that, where is it law that someone is obligated to have artistic integrity? Why is it so wrong for someone to record/release a song with the goal of making a lot of money off of it?

    That’s a valid point. As much as we’d like to think everyone is in the business because they love making music, some are there to make money. But speaking as someone who works in country radio, I think “Beautiful World” would do just as well as this song if not better and is a lot more likely to bring in new fans.

  33. Stormy
    July 27, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    What is wrong with it is that you wind up percisely where Dierks Bentley is–a singer who you don’t turn off when he comes on the radio, but who you don’t really remember when the song goes off the radio.

    I am preparing to take a trip out of town this week that involves a 6 hour flight and a 4 hour drive. I have been packing my MP3 Player full of songs and there are singers who automatically come to mind to load. Dirkes doesn’t.

  34. Jon
    July 27, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Stormy, why say “you” when what you obviously mean is “I?” Have you failed to notice that Bentley has many thousands, perhaps millions of fans?

    I find that all too often, when people start talking about artistic integrity, what they’re really doing is projecting their tastes onto an artist- because so-and-so recorded song A instead of song B, or used instrument X or didn’t use instrument Y, they’re “obviously” lacking artistic integrity. But really, the only time it comes into question is when an artist does something they don’t like or believe in with the intent simply to make money – and the public at large rarely has any actual insight into an artists intent. The fact is that there are usually a whole host of factors involved in making musical decisions, and it’s actually pretty difficult to untangle them into neatly separate little packages. I’m guessing Bentley recorded the song because he liked it and perhaps because he thought it would do well, too, and it’s been released as a single because the record label thinks it will do well. And given the way that labels tend to test the waters these days, it’s likely that they have a more solid handle – though there are no gurantees – on what would do well at Top 40 country radio than any one of us, whether we work in country radio or not. Or maybe Sheryl Crow was agin the idea of releasing “Beautiful World” for reasons of her own. Or maybe her label, or her management was. I’ll bet that none of us here really has any idea, so why pretend that we do?

    “You better do that if you want to make some money.” Bill Monroe to Carter Stanley, 1954

  35. Stormy
    July 27, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    I have failed to notice that, probably because he doesn’t sell millions of albums.

  36. Jon
    July 27, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    Hence the “perhaps,” Stormy – although he has, in fact, sold a couple of million albums in five years or so to people who evidently find his music more memorable than you do. Not that there’s anything wrong with your distaste, but it does underline that you really ought to be framing your statements of it in the first person (preferably the singular, rather than the royal “we” you often – and without good reason – favor); as is often the case, you’re projecting your tastes on to others in the face of considerable evidence that it’s an unjustified move.

  37. Stormy
    July 27, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    A couple million copies of which album?

  38. idlewildsouth
    July 27, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    Modern Day Drifter and Dierks Bentley are both certified platinum.

  39. Stormy
    July 27, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    All that means is that he shipped a million copies of each album.

  40. Andrew Lacy
    July 27, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    The thing is, I am one of those Dierks Bentley fans, and that makes it more frustrating when he puts out something this mediocre than when someone I don’t like does the same.

  41. Jon
    July 27, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    Stormy, I didn’t say he sold a couple million copies of an album, I said he’s sold a couple million albums, which cumulatively he has. And yeah, certifications are for albums shipped, but so what? Do you really think that if the return rate on those shipments were out of the norm that he’d still be on a major label? Do you think that if he didn’t have some drawing power that he’d be on one of the hottest tours of the summer, playing in 25000 seat venues at a time when the economy means that pretty much every act on a big tour has to be one that people are willing to pay to see? I mean, I get that you don’t like his music, and I get that you are absolutely convinced that your taste is superior to most people’s, but seriously, are you trying to argue that the guy doesn’t have a lot of fans? What planet do you live on?

  42. Andrew Lacy
    July 27, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    Do you think that if he didn’t have some drawing power that he’d be on one of the hottest tours of the summer, playing in 25000 seat venues at a time when the economy means that pretty much every act on a big tour has to be one that people are willing to pay to see?

    Not to nitpick, but he is opening for Brad Paisley, who could fill an arena on his own even in this economy.

  43. Stormy
    July 27, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    Jon: So what, at the end of the day, as all this exposure gotten him? A chance to not even headline his own tour?

  44. Miss Leslie
    July 27, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    Emotion is certainly a subjective thing to interpret – just like music. There is the capability of the artist to deliver and there is the capability of the listener to understand.

    The bizarre part of it all is that there are songs that are delivered in a very disconnected way by the artist (and I’m speaking of artists I know that truly are disconnected emotionally from their work), but there is a truth in the song that touches the listener emotionally (myself being the listener that was actually touched by the emotionally disconnected performance). (sigh)

    So emotional delivery is subjective. Right. How would you describe that in a review? While I don’t know that it’s fair to say that Dierk “seems content to coast in the wake of his past success” – it’s hard to say why (in my opinion of course)he didn’t deliver an emotional performance or why he chose the song – I’d have a tough time describing in words why it doesn’t touch me emotionally. Or, quite honestly, why most mainstream music doesn’t touch me emotionally.

    I’d take a feeble attempt at the overuse of digital technology and the “perfection” of the country music industry, but in the end, I’d probably have to say, “Listen to ‘Don’t You Believe Her’ by Ray Price and then tell me if you think this Dierks Bentley song was delivered with emotion.”

    In other words, I probably shouldn’t be a critic.

  45. Miss Leslie
    July 27, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    ALL OF THAT SAID, I don’t know that I expect my critics to describe in gory detail why my voice and my music didn’t touch them emotionally.

    Actually, if they put too much detail in, I’d probably throw up.

    No, seriously.

  46. Collin
    July 28, 2009 at 7:56 am

    Clemson Brad, mentioning that a lot of girls like it isn’t going to help your case very much. 99% of ‘em don’t even listen to the lyrics of the songs they claim to love.

  47. lioness
    July 28, 2009 at 9:15 am

    Not a fan of Dierks. Can take him or leave him. This song, I can leave! Not a good song at all. He seems like a very nice guy but he’s nothing outstanding. I saw him in concert about a month ago and was not impressed with his stage presence. My 9 yr old granddaughter said she did not like his voice!

  48. Chris N.
    July 28, 2009 at 9:53 am

    “My 9 yr old granddaughter said she did not like his voice!”

    Damn! Everybody’s a critic.

  49. Leeann Ward
    July 28, 2009 at 9:57 am

    Collin,
    Holy gross over generlization!

  50. Jon
    July 28, 2009 at 10:06 am

    Andrew: Maybe, but the odds are that if the managers, agents and promoters didn’t think Bentley added value, he wouldn’t be on the tour. I could go on about what the considerations are in putting together a package show, but I don’t know that it would be worth the effort ;-).

    Stormy: What does that have to do with anything? The point is that, contra your third person statement, Bentley has plenty of fans who find his music memorable enough to buy it and to come out to see him, so your statement that “you don’t really remember [him] when the song goes off the radio” should have read “I…” Isn’t it enough for you to offer your taste? Why presume to speak on behalf of others?

    That being said, I find it ironic that someone who’s so ardent a supporter of musicians in a niche genre is all of a sudden trying to dismiss another one for not being popular enough to headline arenas on his own. Headlining or not, Bentley’s making a living with his music, and seems pretty happy about it, as well he ought.

    Miss Leslie: I don’t see why anyone needs to try to explain why a given song, or artist, or genre doesn’t reach them emotionally. It’s just a personal statement, with not much more value than saying “I like arugula,” and assuming that it’s necessary to offer at all, doesn’t really rate more than a sentence.

  51. Jon
    July 28, 2009 at 10:06 am

    “Damn! Everybody’s a critic.”

    Welcome to the new world.

  52. Patty
    July 28, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Collin, excuse me but I DO listen to the lyrics of all the songs I like, especially Dierks.
    And as far as stage presence goes as was mentioned by someone else, that’s truly a matter of personal opinion, mine being that Dierks puts on an amazing live show!

  53. Patty
    July 28, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    Like the song or not, I’m betting it will be another #1 hit for him, and for his fans who have followed this guy for a long time, including myself, we will be thrilled!

  54. agent713
    July 28, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Wait, is anyone actually SURPRISED that this is the next single? It was a given from the start. I adore Dierks. I really do but this song is very unimaginative and boring. For what it’s worth I’ve been resigned to it being the third single since the track listing was announced so I’m not as put out as most of you.

  55. James S.
    July 28, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    I have go along with Drew and J.R. and say that it is an improvement over both “Sideways” and “Feel That Fire.” Lately, I find that I like his ballads better than his upbeat numbers.

    I still enjoyed reading the funny review.

  56. Ronna
    July 28, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    I’m with you, Patty! I rarely find anyone sticking up for Dierks on the 9513. Thank you! Yes he is my all time favorite artist but not just for his voice–which I love–and his songwriting–yes–I listen to every word, but for his character as a person. He’s got a heart of gold and I personally “feel” it spewing out from his lyrics and vocal grit. Sure, I Wanna Make You Close Your Eyes will do well on radio and has a good chance of being his third consecutive number one, but Dierks told me that he was torn between this song and Beautiful World. He said that out of all the songs he had written, he would like to be “known” for BW. But he asked his “fans” which one should be the next single and “close your eyes” won. I still hope BW can be the 4th single.

  57. Miss Leslie
    July 29, 2009 at 7:53 am

    So what do you review? The lyrics? The melody (or lack of it)? The instrumental fills and solos? The creativity and innovation of the song? Right. Show me songs being released with all of THAT and I’ll pay for the downloads.

    I wouldn’t know how to criticize a Nashville song. Actually, I’d like a stab at it sometime.

    This one? A non-interesting, non-melodic intro and solo. While the steel guitar is present, it’s a sidebar – minor fills. This song is a good example of the underuse of steel guitar in modern country. The melody of the song doesn’t go anywhere – a typical modern “melody” that goes back and forth between a few notes within one octave. Lots of drum buildup into the chorus and all over the end – what my friend calls an “80s rock power ballad”. This song does nothing for me, as did all of the songs with the same formula that have recently been released. And the delivery? Bottom line is that there’s nothing to deliver. If I was Dierks, that’s about all I could do with it, too.

  58. Jon
    July 29, 2009 at 8:44 am

    Jeez, Leslie, I’d hate to hear what you’d have to say about “The Old Cross Road” – “the melody goes back and forth between the same few notes within one octave, the vocal arrangement doesn’t vary at all, and the banjo does nothing more than a few minor fills.” ;-)

  59. Emgee
    July 31, 2009 at 9:49 am

    Great freakin’ song.

  60. Alan
    August 1, 2009 at 1:50 am

    Andrew and Stormy..he did have his own headline tour but wanted to go back to opening up for other artists because of the money gas for buses and equipment and he wanted to re-experience the “good times” when he first started out…after this tour he’ll probably go back to his own headlininig tour…he’s had two or three tours of his own… 2 that I know of..Throttle Wide Open and Locked & Loaded

  61. Alan
    August 1, 2009 at 1:58 am

    His next single will probably be “Life On The Run’ a very upbeat outlaw song to follow up this song

  62. Alan
    August 1, 2009 at 2:09 am

    Also I went so see Dierks opening for Brad Paisley last weekend..and he was by far better than Brad…and everyone i talked to after the concert said the same thing..he’s way more down to earth he keeps the crowd involved and does an awesome job entertaining..You can tell he is a very nice guy too..I don’t see why people are giving him so much crap about this song…he writes about what he’s experiencing in life…and just like Ronna said he was torn between BW and this song..the record company (Capitol Nashville) will only let him choose 4 songz off the album for singles 5 if he’s very lucky ..he’s already released “feel that Fire” and “Sideways” besides this, I’d love to see “Life On The Run” And BW

  63. Andrew Lacy
    August 1, 2009 at 9:34 am

    I wouldn’t mind “Life On The Run” being released; I kind of like that song.

    I’m a little surprised if he did better than Brad last weekend. That’s not meant to be a shot at him, but I saw them in Omaha back in January. Dierks was good, but Brad was on fire for three hours.

  64. Alan
    August 1, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    Everybody was kinda shocked..Brad Paisley is more into himself he has like a cartoon of him saving the day going around like superman to rescue Taylor Swift and kenny Chesney and guitar hero during “Celebrity”… his guitar playing is down right amazing but it seems like he overplays it and thats all you hear..you never hear any steel guitar, some fiddle…Where Dierks’ has lot of steel guitar especially in “Lot Of Leavin Left To Do”..Dierks acts like he wants it more and cares more about his show..Brad didn’t even introduce his band..Brad Paisley is nothing but hype personally, I think even Jimmy Wayne was better than him..I’ve been to 3 different Dierks shows now and they were all awesome shows he changes up his show a lot so u never know what to expect for the next show

  65. Alan
    August 1, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    Another thing..I think the main reason Dierks joined Brad Paisley was to increase his popularity and to get noticed…on his own headline tour he played at mostly state fairs so his audience was not as big..and knowing that Brad Paisley plays at bigger venues he would get more fans to notice him in one show…the same reason he’s partially on tour with Keith Urban too..I think someone replied earlier that Dierks is the type of artist that you’re gonna wanna hear on he radio but will forget him after the song is over… he’s tring to get people to “remember him” Brad Paisley was better marketed than Dierks I like Brad’s old stuff when he first started but here lately his music has been very plain…Other artists who should get noticed better like jamey Johnson and Eric Church …Dierks is a much more likable guy than Brad and u can tell by their stage presence

  66. Ben Foster
    March 15, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    I agree. “I Wanna Make You Close Your Eyes” is bland, boring, soulless, and entirely forgettable. This is another dead-on accurate review.

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