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Teen Tragedy Trilogy

August 20, 2021

(I moved this to today from 2025 for Laura at the Pardee Cancer Center. Thanks for everything Laura!)

Once upon a time, there was a lot of teenage angst and melancholy in this country. Out of the 1960s were born several teen tragedy songs, the most famous being what I call the teen tragedy trilogy: Teen Angel, Tell Laura I Love Her and Patches. These songs may be called corny or just a sign of the times. Each was delivered with convincing lyrics and sad music. Some of us strangely found a sort of redemption by listening to these three songs. You decide!

Teen Angel is a song by Mark Dinning that was released in 1960.

Here are the lyrics:

Teen angel, teen angel, teen angel, ooh, ooh

That fateful night the car was stalled
upon the railroad track
I pulled you out and we were safe
but you went running back

Teen angel, can you hear me
Teen angel, can you see me
Are you somewhere up above
And I am still your own true love

What was it you were looking for
that took your life that night
They said they found my high school ring
clutched in your fingers tight

Teen angel, can you hear me
Teen angel, can you see me
Are you somewhere up above
And I am still your own true love

Just sweet sixteen, and now you’re gone
They’ve taken you away.
I’ll never kiss your lips again
They buried you today

Teen angel, can you hear me
Teen angel, can you see me
Are you somewhere up above
And I am still your own true love
Teen angel, teen angel, answer me, please

Tell Laura I Love Her was also released in 1960 by Ray Peterson.

Here are the lyrics:

Laura and Tommy were lovers
He wanted to give her everything
Flowers, presents and most of all, a wedding ring
He saw a sign for a stock car race

A thousand dollar prize it read
He couldn’t get Laura on the phone
So to her mother, Tommy said

Tell Laura I love her, tell Laura I need her
Tell Laura I may be late
I’ve something to do, that cannot wait

He drove his car to the racing grounds
He was the youngest driver there
And the crowed roared as they started the race
‘Round the track they drove at a deadly pace
No one knows what happened that day

How his car overturned in flames
But as they pulled him from the twisted wreck
With his dying breath, they heard him say

Tell Laura I love her, tell Laura I need her
Tell Laura not to cry
My love for her will never die

And in the chapel where Laura prays
For Tommy who passed away
It was just for Laura he lived and died
Alone in the chapel she can hear him cry

Tell Laura I love her, tell Laura I need her
Tell Laura not to cry

My love for her will never die
Tell Laura I love her
Tell Laura I love her

Tell Laura I love her

Patches was recorded by Dickie Lee in 1962. It was written by Barry Mann and Larry Kolber.

Here are the lyrics:

Down by the river that flows by the coal yards.
Stands wooden houses with shutters torn down
There lives a girl everybody calls Patches
Patches my darling of Old Shanty town

We’d plan to marry when June brought the summer
I couldn’t wait to make Patches my bride
Now I don’t see how that ever can happen
My folks say No, and my heart breaks inside

Patches oh what can I do
I swear I’ll always love you
But a girl from that place would just bring me disgrace
So my folks won’t let me love you

Each night I cry as I think of that shanty
And pretty Patches there watching the door
She dosn’t know that I can’t come to see her
Patches must think that I love her no more

I hear a neighbor tellin my father
He said a girl name of Patches was found
Floating face down in that dirty old river
That flows by the coal yards in Old Shanty Town

Patches oh what can I do
I swear I’ll always love you
It may not be right But I’ll join you tonight
Patches I’m coming to you
.

Do you have some thoughts about these three songs? I would love to hear them so please comment.

Okay, I had to thrown in a fourth song of the same genre: Last Kiss (Where Can My Baby Be?) The song was recorded by J. Frank Wilson & The Cavaliers and written by Wayne Cochran in 1961.

Here are the lyrics for this last song:

Well, where oh where can my baby be?
The Lord took her away from me.
She’s gone to heaven, so I got to be good,
So I can see my baby when I leave this world.

We were out on a date in my daddy’s car.
We hadn’t driven very far.
There in the road, straight ahead …
The car was stalled, the engine was dead.

I couldn’t stop, so I swerved to the right.
Never forget the sound that night …
The cryin’ tires, the bustin’ glass.
The painful scream that I heard last.

Well, where oh where can my baby be?
The Lord took her away from me.
She’s gone to heaven, so I got to be good,
So I can see my baby when I leave this world.

Well, when I woke up, the rain was pourin’ down.
There were people standing all around.
Something warm running in my eyes,
But I found my baby somehow that night.

I raised her head, and when she smiled, and said,
“Hold me darling for a little while.”
I held her close. I kissed her our last kiss.
I found the love that I knew I would miss.

But now she’s gone, even though I hold her tight.
I lost my love … my life, that night.

Well, where oh where can my baby be?
The Lord took her away from me.
She’s gone to heaven, so I got to be good,
So I can see my baby when I leave this world.

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7 Comments
  1. Before AIDS, COVID, mass shootings and all the acronym tagged mental illnesses our generation never heard of, the angst of our younger years centered around car crashes. Great songs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It has been a long time since I play these songs! I like Patches…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Those are some real downer lyrics! There was a time I could get into that sort of tune, but no more. All before my time.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was wondering about that 4th song.. There is also Rag Doll and Leader of the Pack.

    Liked by 1 person

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