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