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The Touching Story Behind Willie Nelson’s Christmas Song ‘Pretty Paper’

  • Veronica Neffinger
    Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
  • 2016 Dec 12
  • Comments

Well-known singer-songwriter Willie Nelson wrote a Christmas song that has become a classic which many other artists have covered. The Blaze reveals the moving story behind that song.

The refrain of “Pretty Paper” says:

Pretty paper, pretty ribbons of blue
Wrap your presents to your darling from you
Pretty pencils to write I love you
Pretty paper, pretty ribbons of blue

The backstory to this song is very moving. The Dallas News reports that in the 1960’s Nelson was walking around the streets of downtown Fort Worth, Texas when he saw a disabled street vendor hawking his wares of colorful papers, pencils, and ribbons.

“Pretty papers!” the man called out. “Pretty ribbons!”

Nelson was struck by the sad scene of the vendor, whose legs were amputated above the knees, calling out his wares to no avail. The song continues:

Crowded street, busy feet, hustle by him
Downtown shoppers, Christmas is nigh
There he sits all alone on the sidewalk
Hoping that you won't pass him by

The scene inspired him to write the popular Christmas song, but now Nelson is again using this experience as inspiration for a creative project.

Nelson is working on a novel titled Pretty Paper which provides further background to the story of the disabled street vendor. The novel also includes Nelson’s own story of being a struggling musician in the 1960’s in Fort Worth.

The novel was recently released in time for Christmas.


Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Publication date: December 12, 2016