The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

27 March 2007

A surprisingly-complicated goodbye

Country singer Henson Cargill has died in Oklahoma City from complications following surgery. He was 66.

Cargill graduated from Northwest Classen, studied law and served as a deputy sheriff in these parts before trying his hand at music. In the late 1960s, he was recording for Monument, and in 1967 he cut a track called "A Very Well-Traveled Man." It was not a hit. But on the other side of the disc, someone noticed "Skip a Rope," a casual-sounding but deadly-serious denunciation of adult hypocrisy and its effect on children, and put it on the air. "Skip a Rope" jumped to the very top of the country charts, stayed there over a month, and crossed over to pop stations, reaching #25 on Billboard's pop chart.

"Skip a Rope" sounded like something Cargill's friend Johnny Cash would do, and indeed Cash had contemplated cutting the song, but Cargill and record producer Don Law had a deal with the publishers that gave them first crack at it. It was put on the B-side, I suppose, because its hard-hitting lyrics might have upset the legendarily-hidebound Nashville establishment.

Cargill had other country hits, though he never hit the pop charts again; his last Top 20, a track from his album Uncomplicated, was titled "The Most Uncomplicated Goodbye I've Ever Heard." In the 1980s he owned Henson's, a country-music venue in Oklahoma City that regularly drew top stars; he also appeared on the Reno/Las Vegas casino circuit. A long-overdue Cargill compilation was issued a couple of years ago, and I still have my original 45 of "Skip a Rope": it, too, is well-traveled.

(Note: It is the nature of MP3s to be ephemeral.)

Posted at 12:10 PM to Tongue and Groove

Skip a Rope was a fantastic song. Parents fighting at the top of their lungs, daughters waking up in the middle of the night, bigotry, lying to the IRS. Yup it was very very edgy for back then.

Too bad it sounds too much like the 2000's

Posted by: Dwayne "the canoe guy" at 1:41 PM on 27 March 2007