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Cargill found success in Nashville with an unlikely song

by Doug Davis | January 5, 2023 at 10:00 p.m. | Updated January 9, 2023 at 2:11 p.m.
(Photo courtesy Doug Davis)

Several established Las Vegas music acts have been able to make the move from Vegas to Nashville to expand their careers while some others were not so fortunate.

Henson Cargill seemed to be one of those who were not able make such a move – at least for a while. He was already a successful Las Vegas act when he began his attempts at moving to Music City – but without success. But all that was destined to change.

His 1968 No. 1 "Skip a Rope" seemed to combine a blending of a singer that Nashville was trying to ignore with a song that Music City music executives had already ignored. Not exactly a formula for success but as in life, what is meant to be will be.

Henson was in Nashville again to pitch his songs and attend a scheduled meeting with Columbia Records' Don Law. After listening to his songs, Law quickly decided he was not interested in Cargill's songs but he was interested in his voice.

Tree Music song plugger Don Hartman had already made the rounds with "Skip a Rope" and was turned down. Henson heard the song – liked it – and convinced Don Law to let him record the song. The record already had two strikes against it – Nashville's inner circle had predicted failure for Cargill's recording even before it was released, plus the song stepped on some toes that had not been stepped on in previous country recordings.

Cargill said "the song was different – it was new and a little heavy for the times because the song put the blame on racism and dishonesty squarely on the shoulders of parents. And that had never been done before in country music."

Just about every record label in town had turned it down but Monument Records was willing to take a chance on an unknown singer with a song that had already been picked to fail. But in spite of all those circumstances and predictions, "Skip a Rope" sold more than 500,000 copies in the first 90 days of being released.

Henson Cargill's Monument Records single "Skip A Rope" came on the charts Dec. 9, 1967, made it to No. 1 and stuck there for five weeks. It was his first charted song and his only No. 1. It was on the charts for 19 weeks. The single also scored in the Top 20 on the pop charts.

Henson Cargill placed 16 songs on the country music charts between 1967 and 1980. He died in 2007 at age 66.

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