Teen Angel

Album: Greatest Hits (1960)
Charted: 37 1

Songfacts®:

  • This was written by Mark's sister Jeannie, who was a member with her two sisters of the vocal group The Dinning Sisters. It was about the tragic death of the narrator's girlfriend who stalls her car on a railway track.
  • In the UK, BBC DJs refused to play this as it was too morbid, so it only reached #37 in the British charts.
  • Mark Dinning was born on August 17, 1933 in Drury, Oklahoma. He learned to play the guitar at the age of 17 and he gained a contract with MGM in 1957. This was his one and only hit in both the UK and US. In 1986 he died of a heart attack. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England, for all above
  • Sha-Na-Na played this at Woodstock in 1969.
  • The Canadian group Wednesday recorded a version of this song for their album Canadian Mint that is both a cover and a sequel to the Mark Dinning version, notable for a change in lyrics in which the person being sung about isn't the dead girl but her boyfriend who has died and is now reunited with Teen Angel. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    James - Wilmington, NC

Comments: 31

  • Leigha from Peoria, AzI like music of many different genres from many different areas even I'm only 14 (almost 15). "Teen Angel" is one of my favorite songs from the 50s.
  • Stephen from The FiftiesLove you guys. This song may have been written based on a real event.
    It doesn't matter. The song was made popular because it made the girls cry.
    The boys liked it because it made the crying girls hug them.
    But, you can bet every boy listening to this song while hugging his girlfriend was thinking to himself.
    "Why not go fetch the ring AFTER the wreck?"
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 23, 1960, Mark Dinning performed "Teen Angel" on the ABC-TV network's 'Dick Clark Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show'...
    At the time the song was at #7 on Billboard's Top 100 chart, four weeks later it would peak at #1 {for 2 weeks} and it spent eighteen weeks on the Top 100...
    {See next post below for added info}...
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 16th 1959, Mark Dinning performed "Teen Angel" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    Five days later on December 21st, 1959 the record entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #100; and seven weeks later on February 8th, 1960 it peaked at #1 {for 2 weeks} and spent 18 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #5 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    He had three* other records make the Top 100; "A Star Is Born (A Love Has Died)" {#68 in 1960}, "The Lovin' Touch" {#84 in 1960}, and "Top Forty, News, Weather, & Sports" {#81 in 1961}
    Mr. Dinning, born Max Edward Dinning, passed away on March 22nd, 1986 at the young age of 52...
    May he R.I.P.
    * All three records spent six weeks each on the Top 100 chart.
  • Alicia from Fort Sill, OkThe song is based on true events. Jeannie Dinning was from a small town in Oklahoma near my family. In the 1940's my Aunt was killed in a tragic train accident , her boyfriend survived...but the events were close to what were in the song. This event was in newspapers all over the state and a big deal was made about this due to her being very young and beautiful and the boyfriend just coming back for a visit from the war. ANYWAYS. Ms Dinning saw the article and wrote the song. I have the original news article from the paper and photos from the funeral.

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyMark Dinning's sisters {Lucille, Ginger, & Jean} recorded as The Dinning Sisters; their biggest hit was "Buttons & Bows" in 1949, it peaked at No. 7 and won an Oscar for Best Song {from the movie 'Paleface'}
  • Stephanie Isabella from Mesa, AzLove this song though it makes me want to cry
  • Stephanie Isabella from Mesa, Az@ tom, MEMPHIS, TN That's not true I'm 15 (almost 16) and this song always makes me sad and think about how relationships used to b before it was ok to sleep with 10 different guys or girls every month. This song reminds me of true love and how far someone can go when they're in Love.
  • John from Cincinnati, OhSo, why wasn't his ring on his finger, on hers, or anyone's for that matter? It was just sitting unattached in the car? Was it on a chain that was once around her neck? Did he take it off to perform some action? Did he not wear it while driving? HELP!! I've wondered about this for almost 50 years!
  • Jim from Coshocton, OhThis was released at the beginning of my "teen" years. I always felt that she had already been given the ring, but wasn't wearing it, or dropped it and ran back to "save" it. One of the great songs of my youth. I also "store" it in my memory with "Tell Laura I love her" and, for some reason, with "I'm not Lisa."
  • Hank from Portland, OrWHY did she run back to get his ring?? Well, guess we will never know since she's dead as a doornail. And why do we even care? It's just a song - she ain't real folks.
  • Rhonda from Fort Bend, InThis was one of my favorite songs growing up in the midwest, and I always thought it was so romantic and tragic at the same time. She ran back to the car to find his ring, because she was so in love with him and wanted to be "the one" to wear his ring. Now Albert from Frederick puts another spin on the reason, that sure would make the meaning not only tragic, but empty and pointless. I prefer to think the song is about being in love, not breaking up. I agree with Suzie - Albert from Frederick sees no romance in the lyrics. How sad for him.
  • Barbara from Wilmington, DeI am sitting here laughing after reading all these comments to that guy from Frederick, Maryland. What a silly idea he has. He's entitled to his opinion though, no matter how wrong it is. (smile) I wonder what generation he claims to be from???
  • Chuck from New York, NyI just came across this website and read all the comments regarding WHY she ran back to the car. Who is this guy from Frederick who just doesn't get it? I never heard of such a ridiculous interpretation of this ballad. Just had to comment on this.
  • Harold from Pheonix, AzAlbert from Frederick how often have you wondered about this? Come on, she ran back to get his ring because she was in love with him and she wanted him to give her his ring. What's to wonder about? Susie is right, where is the romance, dude?
  • Valerie from Austin, TxWhy would anyone think she ran back to get his ring so she could give it back to him? No reason to go back for it if she didn't want it. She WANTED it because she WANTED him. I can't believe Albert from Maryland and his friends find this confusing. They must be too young to have grown up in this era of ballads and romantic love songs.
  • Susie from Richmond, VaRun back to get his ring so she could break up with him? NO! That would ruin all the romance in the song. She ran back to get his ring so that someday they could go "steady" and she could wear his ring for all to see. If she were going to break up with him, there would be no reason to go back for the ring. Typical male intperpretation - how totally unromantic of Albert from Frederick!
  • Roger from Dayton, OhSilly girl wanted him to give her his ring, she was just a romantic. and now she's dead. She should have settled for his "letter sweater".
  • Roger from Dayton, OhWhy would she run back to get the ring if she was breaking up with him? That makes no sense at all. She ran back to get the ring because she was in love with him and she wanted him to give her his ring.
  • Linda from Pittsburg, PaShe ran back to get his ring because she was hoping he would give it to her. If she had planned to give it back to him, she would have already had it on her finger. Besides, who cares why she ran back - if she was that dumb he was better off finding another girlfriend. ha ha
  • Albert from Frederick, MdI've often wondered WHY she went back to get his high school ring. Was it because she had planned on giving it back to him and break up and then felt guilty and ran back to get it? This has been a topic of conversation among friends. Any insights from the writers?
  • John from Plainfield, NjRe: Teen Angel. The first two lines "That fateful night the car was stalled upon a railroad track" made me think back to that video I saw on both TV and the Internet about an Amtrak passenger train smashing a stalled car in Greer, South Carolina. That policeman who got that woman out of the car sure risked his life, but sure got her off the track. She did NOT run back to get her purse, etc., from her car, because it would have been TAPS for her as it was for that girl in the story. "I pulled you out, and we were safe!" That should be SGT. Marcus O'Shields's (Greer PD) line, as he did it above and beyond the call of duty! He ought to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor!
  • Tom from Memphis, TnIn my mind, the greatest 'teen tragedy' song ever made. Only 'Tell Laura I Love Her' comes close to equalling the pathos and pain of this song! In my day, both teen guys and girls were emotionally affected by this song. Today, I don't believe teens of either gender would feel anything listening to this song. God, I'm so glad I was born before today's Sick Ages'! oday!!!
  • Kandis from Columbus, Ohi meant younger
  • Kandis from Columbus, Ohi love this song so much. my best friend song this song to me befor he left for the navy. i used to listen to this song when i was older and i still love it.
  • Matt from St. Louis, MoThis song was the basis for an episoid of the early 90s shows Are You Afraid Of the Dark.
  • Steve from Laconia, NhDonovan did a cover of this song in the late 60's. It was not released on any of his albums, but can be found on the B-side of the single "Hurdy Gurdy Man".
  • Marcy from Dearborn, MiHello,
    I would like information Jean Surrey& Red Surrey who wrote the lyrics for the song "Teen Angel." I've tried everything I know of to find it and haven't been able to find anything. Can you help me get some information? I also would like to know who sang the song. I hope you can help me. Than you.
  • Anthea from Boston, MaSteve Goodman included this in a live medley of "dead girl" songs, which is on the "No Big Surprise" anthology--inspired in a very roundabout way by Steve borrowing a motorcycle helmet from some guy in the audience (because no one had a cowboy hat so he could do a country song). The whole audience sings along, and it is hilarious, albeit slightly disturbing.
  • Mark from Falls Church, VaIn my humble opinion, this song closes with one of the most lugubrious lines in all of rock and roll - "I'll never kiss your lips again, they buried you today."
  • Joe from West Creek, NjBeautiful song. One hit wonders of this caliber certainly don't exist anymore.
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