Listen to Pretty Paper (Stop Video First)
NASHVILLE SKYLINE: Willie Nelson's Timeless Christmas Song "Pretty Paper" was written about a real person (written December 22, 2011; by CMT editorial director Chet Flippo.)
Roy Orbison made it a standard of his forever when he recorded it, but Willie Nelson wrote his lovely Christmas song, "Pretty Paper," about a guy I knew slightly. He was a man who had lost both his legs above the knee and -- in those pre-miracle artificial limbs days -- had his leg stumps covered with heavy leather padding and wore thick gloves to pull and slide and scoot his way up and down the sidewalk by the palms of his hands and on his stumps.
He sold pencils from a tin cup affixed to his back and also peddled paper and ribbons at Christmas time, as I recall. He mainly worked the sidewalks by Leonard's Department Store in Fort Worth, Texas, where I was working parttime in high school. I have sadly forgotten the man's name, but he always had a smile for everyone and a great sales pitch, and I sometimes would stop and say hello when I would see him. Every time I hear "Pretty Paper," I see this man in my mind's eye, to this day.