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Listen to the Children While They Play

Listen to the Children While They Play

I was 13 years old in 1968 when Henson Cargill, a relatively unknown name in country music, topped the country charts with the Jack Moran and Glenn Tubb penned classic, “Skip a Rope.”

I was just getting into music in a new way. And music was changing in an important way. Pop music was becoming more politically and socially conscious. In a few short years we had grown from “I Want to Hold Your Hand” to “Sargeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “All Along the Watchtower.”

Country music was changing too. In another year Kenny Rogers would hit it big with the Mel Tillis Vietnam-inspired “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town.” On all popular music fronts, social commentary was on the rise.

“Skip a Rope” was another early country entry in the “all we need is love” musical movement.

Back in those days the teen music magazines printed the lyrics to top songs in the back of the publication. I was becoming fascinated with songwriting: who wrote the song, what do the words “really mean,” etc.

“Skip a Rope” was one of those songs that I found the words to. As a kid experiencing big family problems, the lyrics were particularly meaningful and poignant to me.

“Skip a Rope” dealt with it all: family discord, racial discrimination, greed…and I was not yet far removed from literally skipping rope on the playground and hearing the kind of mean-spirited things kids can say, often just repeating what they had heard at home. The song rang “true” to me, and I guess for countless others as well.

Over the years I’ve often thought about “Skip a Rope” and hummed it to myself. I didn’t recall who wrote or even who recorded the song, until I learned that Henson Cargill passed away at the age of 66 on March 24th, 2007. The news brought back a flood of memories.

Skip A Rope Lyrics

(Words and Music by Jack Moran and Glenn Tubb)

Oh, listen to the children while they play,

Now ain’t it kinda funny what the children say,

Skip a rope.

Daddy hates mommy, mommy hates dad,

Last night you shoulda heard the fight they had,

Gave little sister another bad dream,

She woke us all up with a terrible scream.


Cheat on your taxes, don’t be a fool,

Now what was that they said about a Golden Rule?

Never mind the rules, just play to win,

And hate your neighbour for the shade of his skin.


Stab ’em in the back, that’s the name of the game,

And mommy and daddy are who’s to blame.

Skip a rope, skip a rope,

Just listen to your children while they play,

It’s really not very funny, what the children say,

Skip a rope, skip a rope.