Who was/is Henson Cargill ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more
Skip A Rope
A scion of Oklahoma City royalty, Henson Cargill's grandfather was a former mayor and his father was a prominent lawyer. While studying at Colorado State University, Cargill decided that music was his calling. On his third trip to Nashville, he met Don Law, recently forced into retirement from Columbia Records. "He asked me to give him a straightforward evaluation of his talents," said Law. "I was impressed and said, 'Let's go ahead.' We had a long talk about what direction he should take." The night before the session, Cargill met Tom Hartman, who'd been a dee-jay in Oklahoma City before coming to Nashville to pitch songs for Tree Music. Hartman had hawked Skip A Rope around Nashville but only Johnny Cash was half-interested. The song was by Jack Moran, a blind singer from Penn State University, employed at the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. "I'd been writing some songs," he said recently, "and my wife listened to them, and she said, 'You're not writing yourself. You have a lot of feeling about social issues.' I thought that was for Dylan. At that time, I was in a weight-loss program and we did something called ropeless-rope-skips. I got the idea from that. I made a demo of nine songs and arranged them in order of what I thought was commercial.
'Skip A Rope' was number six." Shopping his songs around Nashville, Moran met Glenn Douglas Tubb at Tree. "We signed him on the strength of that demo he brought in," said Tubb. "'Skip A Rope' was one of the first songs to tell it like it really is. Older people really didn't like the song, and if it hadn't been for kids, the song wouldn't have been a success. I believe it started a new trend in country music songwriting. Things that used to be taboo for country songwriters were suddenly alright." At Tubb's suggestion, Moran dropped one couplet: "Air pollution and the old H-bomb/What're we gonna do about Vietnam." This was the year of discomfiting songs like Revolution, Born To Be Wild, Street Fighting Man, and Sympathy For The Devil. In that context, Skip A Rope was innocuous, but still the only country hit to acknowledge race as an issue-albeit in just one line. "Henson brought it to me with great enthusiasm, which I shared to the extent of asking Tree if we could have it exclusively for ninety days," said Law, who also persuaded Cash to give up his hold on it.
Law and his old buddy, guitarist Grady Martin, rounded up a crew of session guys. Law gave a little speech, telling them that this was the first session for Henson Cargill (which wasn't true) and the first for Don Law Productions (not true, either). "Henson paid for the session himself," continued Law, "and I suggested that he take it to Fred Foster at Monument Records." Foster thought his secretary was putting him on when she told him that someone called Henson Cargill wanted to see him, but one minute or so into Skip A Rope Foster stopped the tape and offered a contract. Skip A Rope reached the top of the country charts and #25 on the pop charts. It became Billboard's Country Song of the year, won a BMI Pop and Country award and a Nashville Songwriters Association award.
- Colins Escott -
Various Country & Western Hit Parade 1968
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