In a little cabaret in a South Texas border town,
Sat a boy and his guitar, and the people came from miles around.
And all the girls from there to Austin,
Were slipping away from home and putting jewelery in hock.
To take the trip, to go and listen,
To the little dark-haired boy who played the Tennessee flat top box.

And he would play,

Well, he couldn't ride or wrangle, and he never cared to make a dime.
But give him his guitar, and he'd be happy all the time.
And all the girls from nine to ninety,
Were snapping fingers, tapping toes, and begging him: "Don't stop."
And hypnotized and fascinated,
By the little dark-haired boy who played the Tennessee flat top box.

And he would play,

Then one day he was gone, and no one ever saw him 'round,
He'd vanished like the breeze, they forgot him in the little town.
But all the girls still dreamed about him.
And hung around the cabaret until the doors were locked.
And then one day on the Hit Parade,
Was a little dark-haired boy who played the Tennessee flat top box.

And he would play

Lyrics submitted by Madcappunk

"Tennessee Flat Top Box" as written by Johnny R. Cash

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Tennessee Flat-Top Box song meanings
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  • +1
    General Comment:This is a great tune, it's a pretty self-explanatory tune about a kid who plays an obscure form of mountain music and he becomes an unexpected hero in the world of popularity. The boy becomes a one-hit wonder and then disappears back into obscurity. This may be the first ballad ever written about a one-hit wonder. It's a classic because Johnny Cash can write a kickass tune.
    OpinionHeadon January 02, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:Flat-top box = acoustic guitar
    blasternot112on April 27, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:an uneducated little dark-haired boy from a South Texas border town. This, IMO, implies a Mexican. Not necessarily illegal though seeing as his disappearance was not deporting but apparently him becoming popular on the 'hit parade'
    blasternot112on April 28, 2009   Link
  • +1
    Lyric Correction:"Well, he couldn't ride or wrangle"


    "Well, he couldn't write or angle"
    litlcntrygrlon September 25, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:great song by a great legend. johnny cash could pick up a pen and write some of the most beautiful words ever put to music. its a shame he had to leave us too soon. nobody today cant come close to matching his talent. todays musicians are a dime a dozen, but i prefer mine in Cash!
    mossyoak83on August 13, 2011   Link

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