Country Music for Christmas
The song “Pretty Paper” was written by the one and only Willie Nelson in 1963. Producer Fred Foster gave the song to Roy Orbison, as Nelson was known as a songwriter at the time but was not as well known as a singer. Roy Orbison had a hit with it in 1963. It went to #10 on the U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart, #15 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #27 on the Christmas Singles Chart. It is a golden oldie Christmas song that one doesn’t hear too much these days.
The song is a about a street vendor who sells pencils and paper to the holiday shoppers, but many do not notice him or his plight. Nelson was inspired by a man he had seen when he lived in Fort Worth, Texas. The man, whose legs had been amputated, was a street vendor who moved on rollers and sold paper and pencils in front of Leonard’s Department Store. The vendor, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram discovered, was named Frankie Brierton. He did indeed sell paper and pencils and had his own unique method of locomotion rather than use a wheelchair.
Nelson recorded his own version in 1964, which was produced by Chet Atkins. “Pretty Paper” is also a track on Nelson’s 1979 album titled Pretty Paper.
Roy Orbison was born Roy Kelton Orbison in Vernon, Texas, in 1936. The Big O was known for his emotional ballads and three- or four-octave range. He would perform standing fairly still on stage, wearing black clothes and dark sunglasses. He helped to popularize a blend of pop, country, and rock that was coming out of Nashville at the time. His recognition includes being part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He is also on the Rolling Stone’s Greatest Artists and 100 Greatest Singers lists. He died of a heart attack at the age of 52.
Roy Orbison (April 23, 1935-December 6, 1988).