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Johnny Cash performs "Tennessee Flat-Top Box"

"Tennessee Flat Top Box" is a song written and recorded by American country music singer Johnny Cash. It was released as a single in late 1961, reaching 11 on the Billboard country singles charts and 84 on the pop charts. The song's name refers to a steel-stringed acoustic guitar.

 

The song is a story of a little boy aspiring to be a country singer, who starts his career at a local cabaret in a South Texas border town. He has no physical abilities, only his ability to play the guitar, which he loves so much that making money is secondary to him. He becomes so popular that girls "from there to Austin" would secretly leave home and pawn jewelry for money to make the trip to hear him play, and "all the girls from nine to ninety, were snapping fingers, tapping toes, and begging him: 'Don't stop.'"

 

Ultimately he disappears from the local scene, only to re-emerge on television, having fulfilled his dream.

Johnny Cash - Tennessee Flat-Top Box Lyrics

 

In a little cabaret in a South Texas border town,

Sat a boy and his guitar, and the people came from all around. 

And all the girls from there to Austin,

Were slippin' away from home and puttin' 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: [Instrumental]

 

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: [Instrumental]

 

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.




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