"Tennessee Flat-Top Box" as written by and Johnny R. Cash....
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 © BMG Rights Management, Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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Tennessee Flat-Top Box song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentThis 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 CommentFlat-top box = acoustic guitar
    blasternot112on April 27, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Commentan 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 Commentgreat 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
  • 0
    MemoryBoy this song takes me back to when I was a young boy, about 5th grade I guess. Mom worked a cafe as the cook, and she had to clean after closing. I used to go there after school and hang around till closing, then go home with mom. After the cafe closed, they would take those quarters painted red with nail polish so the guy would give them back when he emptied the machine, and play that song, as well as the song Mexico that was popular back then. I would lay in that little cove that was where the speakers were on the Jukebox and listen to Johnny Cash tell his story's with such talent and gusto. Man those were the days, about 61 or 62 when God was still a good thing to worship, and the dollar wasn't. When the Duke was still making westerns, and always got the girl, and won in the end.
    TheHunter63on September 17, 2014   Link

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