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June 7

Why today? The Thin Man From West Plains sang “The old home town looks the same as I step down from the train …” into the RCA Victor microphones on this date 45 years ago.

About the record: RCA Victor 47-8622, recorded June 7, 1965, at the label’s studios in Nashville. Released the following month, eventually reaching No. 4 on Billboard‘s country chart. First LP appearance of this version was on The Best of Porter Wagoner, RCA Victor LSP/LPM-3560, released in 1966.

It’s now a country classic, this Curley Putman composition, recorded by the likes of Tom Jones, Charley Pride, Hank Snow, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Joan Baez, Trini Lopez and more. But Porter had the first hit Top 5 hit on it, and it’s his version that most country fans think of first. Such an idyllic picture the singer paints, until the last verse — spoken rather than sung — reveals it was all a dream, a date with the death chamber awaiting the prisoner.

In Porter Wagoner’s elder statesman years, hardly a weekend went by without him singing this song on the Grand Ole Opry. He would introduce it with some variation of the following: “I’d like to sing my latest hit — from 1965.” An exaggeration, yes, but it always got a laugh. “Green, Green Grass Of Home” wasn’t his biggest hit. But it was certainly his best-remembered number, and it’s definitely worth hearing again on this, the anniversary of its recording.

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