Close Your Eyes

Blue Note Records | 1995

Kurt Elling’s recording career began at age 27 with the release of Close Your Eyes. Most of the songs on the album were part of a demo which was the catalyst in his obtaining a recording contract with Blue Note. Co-produced by Elling and his collaborator, pianist Laurence Hobgood, the album featured the first incarnation of the Kurt Elling Quartet and introduced many signature aspects of the singer’s sound: vocalese versions of jazz compositions and improvised solos, the melding of poetry and music, and original compositions. Close Your Eyes secured Elling his first Grammy nomination.

Track Listing

  • Close Your Eyes
  • Music/solo by Wayne Shorter
    Vocalese lyric by Kurt Elling based on Wayne Shorter’s improvised melody on “Dolores” from the 1977 recording VSOP: The Quintet

    The white, electric skillet of a day
    threatened to sear us all away –
    fat frying, spluttering – rank Chicago smeltering along,
    smothered in heavy, wooly sweat,
    the city knew a sad regret
    for staying long in summer’s heavy.

    No escape. Delirious.
    So I went subterraneous.
    Maybe I’d dream about Dolores’
    kinda’ auburn hair & hazel eyes.
    Looking at her made chills go (indecipherable)
    even if she wasn’t even there & so I tried.
    Put Wayne Shorter on to hide
    and slept, completely mystified.

    ‘Honk!’ went a taxi cab outside to remind me night time was dawning.
    Then Laurie & Guy call -say, ‘let’s go dancing & romance perchancing.
    Summer times are sweeter at night.
    The music is swinging all the night.’
    I put a bowl of coffee on. I took a hit.

    What with the day time on the lamb – jumped in my car, Uptown to scram.
    Popped in a great Von Freeman jam and the coffee hit. Bam!
    We hit a Jazz club called, ‘The Mill’.
    Dig it! My second domicile.
    We had a great time hanging, until

    I saw Dolores sweep into the room.
    And then my head began to swoon.
    I got a yen.
    She came right up to me & when
    she spoke my sweat broke. No joke.

    Then came on the thrills,
    and came on the chills!
    She got me to dance –
    I took a chance
    replying, although she was kinda’ shy,
    I stole a sweet kiss on the sly (to simplify).
    And when Dolores sighed a sigh,
    you know, it got me kinda’ high –
    she hit me right between the eyes!

    If there’s one girl I’ve gotta’ remember, it’s her.

  • Ballad Of The Sad Young Men
  • (Hide The) Salomé
  • Married Blues
  • Storyteller Experiencing Total Confusion
  • Music by Kurt Elling and Laurence Hobgood
    Words by Kurt Elling

    Laura was like a cloak to me;
    as warm and comforting as a cloak should be –
    making every day a mystery. And then she said,”Goodbye”.

    Jenny was like a healing fire,
    with a voice just like an angel choir –
    making my heart burn with pure desire.
    And then she said, “Goodbye”.

    Too many lovers in a life, they come and go;
    just making love and then making tracks.
    Soft to touch, but hard to hold –
    they go for a walk and they don’t walk back.

    One day, I know, she will come my way;
    bringing a warmer night and a cooler day.
    We will build our life like a sculpter molds her clay.
    And we’ll never say goodbye.

    And I’m waiting for the girl who will never say good bye.
    Little girl, don’t ever say goodbye. Never say goodbye.

  • Music by Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond
    Lyric by Kurt Elling
    Originally titled “Audrey” from the 1954 recording Brubeck Time
    Based on the short story, How the Thimble Came to be God, by R.M. Rilke

    Once upon a time a cloud (a little cloud)
    gathered her friends together and began to say, aloud,
    “Friends, we can’t find God. Isn’t it odd?”

    And they all agreed it was very odd, indeed,
    to blow about the sky like a brainless seed.
    “Something’s really gone awry when older clouds oversimplify
    when they say that it’s just another day.

    It’s imperative we be somewhat more truly demonstrative
    in becoming provocative.
    Our parents neglect God, it’s true – all their world is askew.

    They go about bickering and scheme of possessing things
    as though they own us, too, and own all that we do.
    Yet they can’t understand
    just how foolish it is to build a house on sinking sand.

    And when we cry
    they say, “Oh my!
    You’ll grow out of it soon
    and start singing a grown-up tune.'”

    So the clouds made a vow,
    since the grown-ups had lost God, somehow.
    They would pick something out that would keep them aware
    that they could take with them anywhere (like a lock of hair, or a pear)

    – not an animal, or too big.
    So the little ones looked around and up and down and in and out
    and came up with a list:

    They had a feather, erasers and string
    pen knives and pencils and pieces of things
    that they found in their pockets to spare
    (and which they began to compare).

    But the shiniest object (when looking them over) the thimble was brightest
    and so they decided the thimble was rightest
    for taking along and for knowing God was staying long and in their every day.

    They knew where to find
    their peace of mind
    playing a game of tag or ‘fame’
    they simply had to call out the thimble’s name.

    Then, one day, the smallest
    cloud took a big fall and
    dropped the thimble from her hand.
    And God turned to sand.

    Just then, a wise old woman cloud happened along
    and she asked the little cloud, “What’s wrong?”
    And the little cloud replied, “God’s gone.”

    But the older cloud knew right away,
    so she said to the little one, “Here’s your thimble. I found it today.”

  • Wait 'Till You See Her
  • Hurricane
  • Now It's Time That Gods Came Walking Out
  • Never Never Land
  • Remembering Veronica


Kurt Elling: vocals
Edward Petersen: Tenor Saxophone (6, 10)
Von Freeman: Tenor Saxophone (4)
Dave Onderdonk: Electric/Acoustic Guitars (7)
Laurence Hobgood: Piano & Synthesizer
Eric Hochberg: Acoustic Bass (1, 2, 4, 5, 11, 12 & 13)
Rob Amster: Acoustic Bass (6 & 8) Electric Bass (7 & 12)
Paul Wertico: Drums & Percussion