Week ending 2/3/18: #1 singles this week in country music history
1958 (Sales): The Story of My Life — Marty Robbins (Columbia)
1958 (Disk Jockeys): Ballad of a Teenage Queen — Johnny Cash (Sun)
1968: Skip A Rope — Henson Cargill (Monument)
1978: Out of My Head and Back in My Bed — Loretta Lynn (MCA)
1988: Goin’ Gone — Kathy Mattea (Mercury)
1998: Just To See You Smile — Tim McGraw (Curb)
2008: Letter To Me — Brad Paisley (Arista)
2018: Meant To Be — Bebe Rexha featuring Florida Georgia Line (Big Machine)
2018 (Airplay): Yours — Russell Dickerson (Triple Tigers)
“Skip A Rope” by the Henson Cargill (aka ‘The Zen Cowboy’) would prove to be his only #1 hit (and one of only two top ten records). It was an interesting song , one of several social commentary songs released around the same time (“Harper Valley PTA” was a huge hit, but Roy Clark’s excellent “Do You Believe This Town” died outside of the top forty).
Cargill was a fine vocalist who issued four albums on Monument, all of them excellent, but his career faded rapidly and he was largely gone from the airwaves after 1972, although a few scattered singles would chart thereafter. I always felt 1973’s “Some Old California Memory” should have been a huge hit but it died at #28 although in some markets it was a top ten hit
According to Billboard “Ballad of A Teenage Queen” was Cash’s biggest single, staying at #1 for ten weeks. Written by Jack Clement, the song only seems superficial. Johnny would revisit the song during his tenure on Mercury, recording the song as a duet with daughter Rosanne and Phil & Don Everly as guests
I really liked the sound of Tim McGraw’s “Just To See You Smile” but the last verse was insufferably stupid.
“Letter To Me” was one of Brad Paisley’s better efforts
“Skip A Rope” was a very significant song in the evolution of country music. At a time when country songs generally dealt with themes of love, infidelity, drinking, truck driving and love of God & country, a song about social consciousness was very unusual. The country audience of that era was primarily comprised of middle-age Americans that had lived through World War II, generally supported establishment politics including the Vietnam War and were adverse to the growing counter-culture anti-establishment movement personified by hippies. Obviously the Nashville country music industry did not wish to rock the boat and alienate their core audience. That’s why “Skip A Rope” was rejected by singers & producers until it came to the attention of Henson Cargill and his producer Don Law. They were not afraid of the content and saw potential as did Fred Foster the owner of Monument Records who signed Cargill to his label based upon that recording. The song took parents to task for the behavior and attitudes of their children including racism. Surprisingly it struck a chord with country fans that were ready for a dose of reality. Cargill’s song remained at the top of the Billboard country survey for five weeks and as Paul indicated in his comments above opened the door for similarly themed songs.
“Skip A Rope” was co-written by blind songwriter Jack Moran and Ernest Tubb’s nephew Glenn Douglas Tubb. Moran singularly penned Cargill’s only other top ten hit “None Of My Business.” [#8 in 1969] That song carried the themes of “Skip A Rope” a bit father but was not as well received.