Keith Whitley was born on this date in 1955. I realize that many of you that are new to country music or were born within the last 20 years may not have a clue who Keith was. However, during his short time on earth, Whitley was one of the greatest singer/songwriters to ever grace country radio.

Known for his smooth sound and "traditional country" lyrics and melodies, Whitley lived the life that was portrayed in his music. From addiction to heartbreak, there is a little bit of his style in all of today's country music. Keith had a hit with "When You Say Nothing At All" before Alison Krauss sang it. But, for me, it is the drinking and hurting songs that really emphasize the man within the music.

The song "I Never Go Around Mirrors" is just one of the songs that I think really capture the essence of what Whitley's sound was...

Keith may be best known for hits such as "Don't Close Your Eyes", "Miami My Amy" and "I'm No Stranger To The Rain." But one song in particular stands out to me as the one song that Keith really got personal on -- "Tell Lorrie I Love Her."

Whitley had a long relationship with Lorrie Morgan. His untimely death at the hands of alcohol abuse was almost foreshadowed within the lyrics of that song...

Tell Lorie I love her
Tell Lorie I need her
Tell her everything would be ok if I could just see her
Tell Lorie I love her
Tell Lorie I need her
And If I leave this old world tell her she’s the only girl for me

I get chills just reading these lyrics. When you listen to Keith sing it, you can hear the passion in his voice. The heartbreak and the regret pour out of the speakers as his baritone voice melodically display the anguished thoughts of a man in love.

It's sad that Whitley's music doesn't get the airplay it deserves. I tend to think that if you ask other stars of his era (Strait, McIntyre, Jackson, etc..), they would agree that, much like Hank Williams, Sr., losing Keith Whitley really affected the future of country music.

Such a talented man with so much to offer. On this, the 58th anniversary of Keith Whitley's birthday, take a minute to get familiar with his legacy and music.