Teen Angel (song)

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"Teen Angel"
Teen Angel by Mark Dinning - CD cover
Single by Mark Dinning
B-side "Bye Now Baby"
Released 1959
Format 7" Single (45 RPM)
Genre Pop
Length 2:42
Label MGM Records
Writer(s) Jean Dinning, Red Surrey
Producer(s) Jim Vinneau
Mark Dinning singles chronology
"Teen Angel"
(1959)
"A Star Is Born (A Love Has Died)"
(1960)
Audio sample
file info · help

"Teen Angel" is a teenage tragedy song written by Jean Dinning (1924–2011)[1] and her husband, Red Surrey, and performed by both Jean's brother, Mark Dinning, and Alex Murray in 1959. "Teen Angel" was released in October 1959. The song was not an instant success, with radio stations in the U.S. banning the song.[2] Despite the reluctance of radio stations, the song continued to climb the charts. In the last week of 1959, the single jumped from #100 to #50 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[3] It went on to reach #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 (February 1960) and number thirty-seven in the UK Singles Chart (even though it was banned from being played by the BBC).[citation needed]

Storyline[edit]

The song is about a girl who is out on a ride with her boyfriend. Their car is stalled on a railroad track when he pulls her to safety. But when she runs back, she gets run over by a train. When they find her corpse, the narrator's high school class ring is in her hand, apparently the reason that she ran back. The last verse ends with the lyrics: "I'll never kiss your lips again/ They buried you today." The final time in the coda asks the Teen Angel to: "Answer me, Please?"

Legacy[edit]

American rock and roll revival act Sha Na Na performed "Teen Angel" at the 1969 Woodstock festival.

"Teen Angel" and its two predecessors at the Hot 100's top spot, "El Paso" by Marty Robbins and "Running Bear" by Johnny Preston, continued a string of pop tunes in which someone dies tragically.

In 1974, the Canadian band, Wednesday, released its own version of "Teen Angel" much like it had released its own version of "Last Kiss". But rather than being a remake of the original, the storyline of the 1974 version reverses the role. After losing his girlfriend some time before, the 16-year-old boy loses his life in the same manner as the girl in the 1960 song (and the song in this case is narrated by a group of the boy's friends, rather than an individual).

The song was included in a medley by Steve Goodman, who performed it along with "Tell Laura I Love Her" and "Laurie (Strange Things Happen)" in what he referred to as "dead girl songs."[4]

It was also included in a medley by John Sebastian on his ""Cheapo Cheapo Productions" album (1971), though not credited in the sleevenotes.

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ born March 29, 1924, died February 22, 2011 in Garden Grove, California, SF Gate.
  2. ^ New Bloomfield Historical Society
  3. ^ Billboard Hot 100, December 28, 1959
  4. ^ Goodman, Steve. "Medley: Born to Be Wild/Teen Angel/Tell Laura I Love Her/Strange Things Happen" No Big Surprise, Disc 2, Track 16.