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My Top 6 Teen Tragedy Songs

Updated on January 18, 2018

About this Lens

I love songs that tell stories. And I find songs that tell tragic stories particularly fascinating. I sort of "collect" them. (I actually used to keep a physical list of the songs, but my friends got creeped out so I stashed it somewhere and now that I've moved out, I can't find it...)

The following six songs are what I personally consider to be the "best of the best" teen tragedy songs.

Keep in mind that this is MY opinion. You may agree or you may feel that I'm completely wrong. (Either way, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the Guestbook at the bottom of the page!--I'm always looking for new songs to listen to!).

And, yes, that's a picture of me as a "tragic" teen. Boo-hoo!


"Laurie (Strange Things Happen)" by Dickey Lee

This song has teens in it and deals with tragedy, but it's a bit different from the other songs on my list. It's more of a "creepy pasta"/urban legend than anything else. It's a (SPOILER) ghost story.

Basically, a guy is at a school dance having a great time and he starts dancing with this awesome chick (Laurie). And it's her birthday! Laurie tells our narrator that she's cold and so he lends her his sweater. Then, she accidentally goes home with his sweater. He's like "Oh noes!" so he goes to her house to get it back and he ends up talking with her dad. Her dad tells him that he's a cruel young man because his daughter Laurie is dead(!) and that she died one year ago today--on her birthday. The narrator is appropriately freaked and goes to the cemetery and finds his sweater folded neatly on Laurie's grave.


"Teen Angel" by Dickey Lee

A boy and his girlfriend are out on a date when their car gets stuck on the railroad track. A train's coming. The boy pulls his girlfriend to safety, but she (stupidly!) goes running back into the car and GETS HIT BY A TRAIN!!

The boy doesn't know why she would do something so idiotic. Later he's told that when they examined her body, they found his ring clasped in her hand. That's what she went back to the car for.


Listen to/Watch: "Teen Angel" (Mark Dining version) - The Dickey Lee version wasn't available, but this is good too!


"Tell Laura I Love Her" by Ray Peterson

I used to like this song as a kid because "Laura" sounds a lot like my name (Lauren). I almost put it higher on the list simply based on that, but I'm TRYING to be fair... (Top ___ Lists are always a bit subjective)

Tommy wants to marry Laura, but he doesn't have the money. He sees an ad for a stock car race with a thousand dollar prize. Tommy can't get Laura on the phone, so he goes off to the race on his own (but he tells her mother to let Laura know). Tommy gets to the race--he's the youngest driver there. The race starts and things seem to be going well until...

"No one knows what happened that day... how his car OVERTURNED IN FLAMES. But as they pulled him from the TWISTED WRECK, with his DYING BREATH, they heard him say: Tell Laura I love her. Tell Laura I need her. Tell Laura not to cry. My love for her will never die."


The last scene has Laura in the chapel praying, alone, and she can hear Tommy's voice crying out to her.

Listen to/Watch: "Tell Laura I Love Her" (That's the link to the song...I don't know why it isn't showing up)


"Patches" by Dickey Lee

The first time I heard this song, my reaction was "Holy CRAP, Dude..." Yikes! (Also, what's up with Dickey Lee and super sad songs, am I right??)

Our narrator falls in love with the poor girl in town ("Patches") and asks her to marry him. His folks get on his case and forbid him to marry Patches--or even see her! He's rich, she's poor; you know the drill. The narrator cries all the time thinking about Patches, but he can't go see her (personally, I like to think that he's been physically imprisoned somehow--otherwise he'd just be a wuss). He knows that Patches must think that he's forsaken her.

Later, the narrator hears a neighbour telling his father that a girl named Patches has committed suicide by drowning herself "in the dirty old river."

The last lyrics of the song are: "It may not be right, but I'll join you tonight... Patches I'm coming to you." O_O Oh, my God!

Because of the teen suicide theme, this song was actually banned from airplay from a number of radio stations when it came out. It's only a matter of personal preference (I like faster-paced songs...) that it didn't dominate this list.


"Leader of the Pack" by The Shangri-Las

The sound of the motorcycle revving in the background makes this one a lot of "fun" for a song that's so tragic. Also, the back-and-fourth thing between "Betty" and her gal pals reminds me of something that could be heard in a musical (and I do love me some musicals!). This song was named one of the "500 Best Songs of All Time" by Rolling Stone in 2004. I'd have to agree.

Betty loves Jimmy, the "leader of the pack." Her parents disapprove ("he's from the wrong side of town"). Betty is told to break up with him. She does. Jimmy "sort of smiles and kissed [her] goodbye...the tears were beginning to show. As he drove away, on that rainy night [she] begged him to go slow...whether he heard, [she'll] never know."

Jimmy's motorcycle crashes on the rain-slicked pavement and he dies. Betty continues to wear his ring, long after his death, saying "At school they all stop and stare. I can't hide the tears, but I don't care: I'll never forget him." :'(


"Last Kiss" by J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers

This is one of my favourite songs of all time.

Yes, Pearl Jam did a cover version of this song in the late 90s. It actually drove me crazy at the time because none of the other kids my age seemed to realize that it was a cover! I'd been a fan of the original long as I can remember!...and all of a sudden people were saying that they liked the song too, but it was the "wrong" version. haha. I was pretty petty when I was younger. I still think the original is far superiour, but I can appreciate Pearl Jam's cover a bit more now (it no longer fills me with rage). Now when someone mentions it, I simply recommend they listen to the original ("if you like that, you might also like...") rather than getting angry with them.

So, in the song, the narrator and his girlfriend are out on a date in his dad's car. There's another car stalled in the road ahead and our narrator has to serve to avoid it. The narrator's car crashes and his girlfriend goes flying out the window (this is why we wear seatbelts now!). The narrator wakes up, finds his girlfriend all bloody and dying, and they share their last kiss. Now our narrator has vowed that he "has to be good" so he can see her again when he leaves this world.

Beautiful. And I love J. Frank Wilson's voice. Mmm.

Listen to/Watch: "Last Kiss"

Which Teen Tragedy Song Do YOU Like Best?

See results
The Best of  Shangri-Las: 20th Century Masters (Millennium Collection)
The Best of Shangri-Las: 20th Century Masters (Millennium Collection)

This includes "Leader of the Pack," of course; but you may be surprised that The Shangri-Las had some other great songs too!

Billboard Top Rock'n'Roll Hits: 1964
Billboard Top Rock'n'Roll Hits: 1964

This has "Last Kiss" and "Leader of the Pack."

It's actually one of my favourite albums ever. I have it on cassette. I love all of the songs on it (except for "Bread and Butter"--I don't hate it, but it's one of those songs you have to be in the mood for, you know?) and includes one of my other fave songs of all time "Rag Doll" by The Four Seasons.


"Last Kiss" Lyrics

We were out on a date in my daddy's car

We hadn't driven very far

There in the road straight ahead

A car was stalled the engine was dead

I couldn't stop so I swerved to the right

I'll never forget the sound that night

The crying tires the busting glass

The pain-filled scream that I heard last


Oh where oh where can my baby be

The Lord took her away from me

She's gone to heaven so I got to be good

So I can see my baby when I leave this world

When I woke up the rain was pouring down

There were people standing all around

Something warm flowing in my eyes

But I found my baby somehow that night

I lifted her head she looked at me and said

Hold me darling just a little while

I held her close I kissed her our last kiss

I found the love that I knew I would miss

Well now she's gone even though I held her tight

I lost my love my life that night


Woh (x4)

Ohh (x4)

"Leader of the Pack" Lyrics


Is she really going out with him?

Well, there she is. Let's ask her.

Betty, is that Jimmy's ring you're wearing?


Gee, it must be great riding with him

Is he picking you up after school today?


By the way, where'd you meet him?

I met him at the candy store

He turned around and smiled at me

You get the picture? (yes, we see)

That's when I fell for (the leader of the pack)

My folks were always putting him down (down, down)

They said he came from the wrong side of town

(whatcha mean when ya say that he came from the wrong side of town?)

They told me he was bad

But I knew he was sad

That's why I fell for (the leader of the pack)

One day my dad said, "Find someone new"

I had to tell my Jimmy we're through

(whatcha mean when ya say that ya better go find somebody new?)

He stood there and asked me why

But all I could do was cry

I'm sorry I hurt you (the leader of the pack)


He sort of smiled and kissed me goodbye

The tears were beginning to show

As he drove away on that rainy night

I begged him to go slow

But whether he heard, I'll never know

Look out! Look out! Look out! Look out!

I felt so helpless, what could I do?

Remembering all the things we'd been through

In school they all stop and stare

I can't hide the tears, but I don't care

I'll never forget him (the leader of the pack)

The leader of the pack - now he's gone

The leader of the pack - now he's gone

The leader of the pack - now he's gone

The leader of the pack - now he's gone


"Patches" Lyrics

Down by the river that flows by the coal yards

Stand wooden houses with the shutters torn down

There lives a girl everybody calls Patches

Patches my darling of old shantytown

We planned to marry when June brought the summer

I couldn't wait to make Patches my bride

Now I don't see how that ever can happen

My folks say no and my heart breaks inside

Patches, oh what can I do?

Patches, I swear I'll always love you

But a girl from that place will just bring me disgrace

So my folks won't let me love you

Each I cry as I think of that shanty

And pretty Patches there watching the door

She doesn't know that I can't come to see her

Patches must think that I love her no more

I hear a neighbour telling my father

He says a girl name of Patches was found

Floating face down in that dirty old river

That flows by the coal yards in old shanty town

Patches, oh what can I do?

I swear I'll always love you

It may not be right

But I'll join you tonight

Patches, I'm coming to you...

"Tell Laura I Love Her" Lyrics

Laura and Tommy were lovers

He wanted to give her everything

Flowers, presents,

But most of all, a wedding ring

He saw a sign for a stock car race

A thousand dollar prize it read

He couldn't get Laura on the phone

So to her mother, Tommy said

Tell Laura I love her

Tell Laura I need her

Tell Laura I may be late

I've something to do, that cannot wait

He drove his car to the racing grounds

He was the youngest driver there

The crowed roared as they started the race

Around the track they drove at a deadly pace

No one knows what happened that day

Or how his car overturned in flames

But as they pulled him from the twisted wreck

With his dying breath, they heard him say

Tell Laura I love her

Tell Laura I need her

Tell Laura not to cry

My love for her will never die

Now in the chapel where Laura prays

For her poor Tommy, who passed away

It was just for Laura he lived and died

Alone in the chapel she can hear him cry

Tell Laura I love her

Tell Laura I need her

Tell Laura not to cry

My love for her will never die

Tell Laura I love her

Tell Laura I need her

Tell Laura not to cry

My love for her will never die

"Teen Angel" Lyrics

Teen angel teen angel teen angel uh-huh

Teen angel

Teen angel

Teen angel


That fateful night the car was stalled upon the railroad track

I pulled you out and we were safe but you went running back


Teen Angel can you hear me teen angel can you see me

Are you somewhere up above and am I still your own true love

What was it you were looking for that took your life that night

They said they found my high school ring clutched in your fingers tight


Just sweet sixteen and now you're gone they've taken you away

I'll never kiss your lips again they buried you today


"Laurie (Strange Things Happen)" Lyrics

Last night at the dance I met Laurie

So lovely and warm

An angel of a girl

Last night I fell in love with Laurie

Strange things happen in this world

As I walked her home she said it was her birthday

I pulled her close and said

Will I see you anymore

And suddenly she asked for my sweater

And said that she was very very cold

I kissed her goodnight at her door and started home

Then thought about my sweater

And went right back and said

I knocked at her door

And a man appeared I told him why I'd come

And he said

You're wrong son

You weren't with my daughter

How can you be so cruel

To come to me this way

My daughter left this world on her birthday

She died a year ago today

A strange force drew me to the graveyard

I stood in the cold I saw the shadows gleam

And then I saw my sweater

Lying there upon her grave

Strange things happen in this world


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    • Aaron Seitler profile image

      Aaron Seitler 

      3 years ago from Manchester, United Kingdom

      "At 17"- Janice Ian

      From an anguished 17 year old :)

    • profile image

      Bob Scutellaro 

      4 years ago

      I came across your page (first hit) while searching for a song about a sweater left on a grave. I have an iTunes playlist coincidentally named "Teen Tragedies." I downloaded "Laurie" only to find I did have the song, but didn't know. Oh, well almost 7000 songs, one's bound to make some errors.

      I also have "Ebony Eyes" (Everly Bros), "Moody River" (Pat Boone) and "Endless Sleep" (Jody Reynolds).

      Great List. Great minds think alike.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Don't forget Rocky by Austin Roberts.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      What about the song "Ebony Eye's by the Everly Brothers... A tear jerker for any service man...

    • DeannaDiaz profile image


      7 years ago

      My dad would sing patches to me and I would cry every time!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great work on this lens - I grew up with this music! Patches used to kill me every time I heard it...

    • akumar46 lm profile image

      akumar46 lm 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing such a touching memory through songs.

    • littlezotz profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @Joan4: That song was actually recommended to me the other day by the mom of my friend Steff Turner (I did a lens on Steff...). I'd never heard it before! And, to be honest, I still haven't heard the whole thing. The version that I found was of such terrible quality that I couldn't stand to listen to it for more than a minute. I'll keep it in mind for the future though!

      I'm glad you enjoyed my list! :D Thanks for stopping by!!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I like story/songs too. and the 60s were full of them. Ode to Billie Joe was one of my favorites - and I enjoyed your list, too!

    • littlezotz profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @lilyofthevalley1: Thanks for the suggestion!! I hadn't heard that one before. I actually DID make another list already: If you're interested, please check it out! :D

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Hey, nice songs! If you ever plan to add more, I love the song "Alive with the Glory of Love" by Say Anything. It's a song to rock out to, but it also tells a very tragic tale at the same time. Check it out :)

    • littlezotz profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @Sylvestermouse: I'm not a parent, so I can't empathize, but I can definitely sympathize! That IS very sad to think about how he must have felt (I say, as if the song were about real people...haha).

      Thank you for liking my lens! By the way, if you're interested, I just did a "sequel" to this lens:

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      8 years ago from United States

      I think "Teen Angel" and "Last Kiss" would make anybodies top tragic song list! I had never heard "Laurie" before. Interesting! At this point in my life, as a parent, I feel sorry for the poor father.


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