On This Day: Johnny Cash Releases ‘Ballad of a Teenage Queen’ in 1958

by Matthew Wilson

Johnny Cash is singing of teenage romance in his 1958 classic. It’s been 63 years since the country music legend released “Ballad of a Teenage Queen.”

Cash was still early in his career when he recorded this catchy jingle about teenage lovers. Jack Weaver wrote the song, which Cash recorded in 1957. The melody is reminiscent of Marty Robbins’ “El Paso,” which would release a year later. The tune featured on Cash’s album “Sings the Songs That Made Him Famous.”

Upon release, the song shot straight to the top of the charts. And proving the album’s name was a self-fulfilling prophecy, the tune was another hit in Cash’s storied career.

The prettiest girl in a small town is the heroine of this ballad. The titular teenage queen, she quickly falls in love with a boy who works at a local candy store. But any plans for matrimony is interrupted when the girl’s career suddenly takes off. She’s discovered by a talent scout and becomes a famous movie star. Living it up in Hollywood, she finds that fame and fortune doesn’t make her happy.

In a happy rather than tragic ending, the girl sells all of her belongings and returns to the candy store to be reunited with her old flame. There she finds the love that she seeks.

Johnny Cash Rerecords the Tune

In many ways, it also took love for Johnny Cash to find happiness. Cash went through his wild days of recklessness and addiction. But June Carter and her love swooped in and changed Cash. He became a better man in a way that all the money and fame couldn’t accomplish.

Years later in 1987, Cash decided to revisit the adventures of the Teenage Queen and her love. This time, he invited his daughter Rosanne to sing on the track. While not as successful as the original, recording the tune was probably a proud moment for Cash as a father, watching his daughter sing.