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Dec. 5: The Statler Brothers owe a lot to Johnny Cash, who brought them into his road show in 1963, helped them get a record deal in Nashville and nurtured the quartet as their career grew. By 1972, they were stars in their own right, and on this date they announced they were leaving Cash’s show to tour on their own. This was their current single — no hard-core honky-tonker for sure, but an example of the style that made the Statlers a fan favorite and eventually put them in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

“The Class of ’57” was written by Don and Harold Reid, the lead and bass singers who were the only two actual siblings in the Statler Brothers. It was recorded in April of that year, with the instrumental support from members of the Nashville A-Team: Harold Bradley, Ray Edenton, Jerry Kennedy (also the quartet’s producer on Mercury Records), Chip Young, Pete Drake, Bob Moore, Buddy Harman, Pig Robbins, Charlie McCoy and others.

When I was a kid, my folks had “The Best of The Statler Brothers” collection. It included this and several other nostalgic numbers from that period, including “Do You Remember These” and “Whatever Happened to Randolph Scott” — hits that made the Statlers the first act in country music to celebrate memories of suburbia and not the old rural homeplace. Maybe that’s why their music resonates with me. I know that album got a lot of spins (or whatever you do to an 8-track tape) in my house and car, which burned these songs into my brain.

Check out the Statler Brothers’ profile here, and their discography here.

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