Marty Stuart, Glenn Douglas Tubb, & “Skip A Rope”

It’s crazy how things sometimes work out, making it hard to doubt divine intervention.

A few months ago Marty Stuart began releasing a song a month in a project he calls Songs I Sing in the Dark, with the purpose of shining a renewed spotlight on some compositions from country and classic pop he believes are still vital and worthy of remembering. The self-described radical preservationist and now Country Music Hall of Famer selected the social commentary song “Skip a Rope” for his latest installment, releasing it on Tuesday, May 25th. Lo and behold, the next day we find out that the song’s writer has passed away.

Glenn Douglas Tubb was the nephew of the legendary Ernest Tubb, the cousin of Grand Ole Opry performer Justin Tubb, and the uncle of the youngest performer of the Tubb clan, Lucky Tubb. Along with being the keeper of all things Tubb after the passing of Ernest in 1984, Glenn Douglas was a performer and songwriter whose successful career may have been overshadowed entirely by his other famous family members if not for “Skip A Rope.”

Written with Jack Moran and first recorded by Henson Cargill in 1967 as his debut single, it spent 5 weeks at #1 in country, and became a Top 25 hit in pop. It later went on to be nominated for a Grammy Award, and was covered by the likes of George Jones, Jimmy Dean, B.J. Thomas, Conway Twitty, Lynn Anderson, Gene Vincent, Bobby Bare, The Kentucky HeadHunters, and many others.

The song is a socially conscious treasure from those times, relevant literature with a beat,” says Marty Stuart. “I’m still mesmerized by the song. The song’s three-note, plaintive, drone-like intro beckons me inside the walls of the piece and then drops me off at a heart-to-heart level with the message in the song. It’s a message that’s just as relevant today as it was during the song’s heyday when it reigned on the charts. As a matter of fact, ‘Skip A Rope’ stands as an eternally relevant, statesman-like monument of a song.

Not shallow praise from Marty.

Glenn Douglas Tubb left a deep legacy of songs behind when he passed away Saturday, May 22nd at the age of 85. Johnny Cash recorded his song “Home of the Blues,” helping to give Glenn his start in the profession. Uncle Ernest recorded Glenn’s “Next Time” in 1959. Then in 1961 Webb Pierce had a Top 10 hit with “Sweet Lips.” Tubb had longevity as a songwriter too. The big hit “Two Story House” for George Jones and Tammy Wynette in 1980 was written between Wynette, Glenn Douglas, and David Lindsey.

Other notables that recorded Glenn Douglas Tubb songs include Dwight Yoakam, Hank Williams Jr., Kitty Wells, Charlie Louvin, Sonny James, Jan Howard, Charley Pride, Bob Dylan, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Gene Watson, Jack Barlowe, Billy Walker, Anne Murray, and others.

Glenn Douglas Tubb was a performer as well, releasing numerous albums and singles for Dot Records and Decca under the name Glen Douglas since he didn’t want to exploit the family name, and later recorded for MGM and Mercury Records as Glenn Douglas Tubb. He often toured with Johnny Cash, as well as Jerry Lee Lewis, George Jones, and others.

There are a lot of institutions still ongoing in Nashville that owe a debt of gratitude to Glenn Douglas Tubb’s efforts. Though he appeared on the Grand Ole Opry on a number of occasions, it was his work to expand programing around the Saturday night event just like Ernest did that had a lasting impact, including keeping his uncle’s long-running “Midnite Jamboree” that aired after the Opry on Saturday nights alive for many years, first at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop in downtown Nashville, and later at the Texas Troubadour Theater across the road from the Grand Ole Opry east of town.

Glenn also performed on the Ozark Jubilee, as well as the program called the “Friday Night Frolicks,” which is an often forgotten sister program to the Grand Ole Opry, and eventually turned into the Friday Night Opry as its popularity rose, thanks to performers like Glenn Douglas Tubb.

Along with being a writer and performer, Glenn Douglas was an ordained minister with his wife Dottie Snow, and they performed a weekly sermon called “The Kitchen Tabernacle.” A documentary was in the works about Glenn’s life when he passed.

Marty Stuart says he once heard one of the ‘A’ Team musicians who played on the original recording of “Skip A Rope” say, “When you’ve got a ‘Skip A Rope,’ you don’t need anything else.” This was in praise of the career of the original performer Henson Cargill, who never found success bigger than with the song. Stands to reason this same praise extends to the song’s composer, Glenn Douglas Tubb.

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