Willie Nelson has just released a book for the holiday season based on his classic track, “Pretty Paper,” which explores the story behind the song. The 304-page Christmas tale features Nelson seeing a down-on-his-luck street vendor named Vernon selling paper and ribbons. In the book, which embodies the real spirit of Christmas, Nelson feels compelled to learn more about the mysterious man.
In 1963, Nelson was inspired to originally write the song while walking the streets of Fort Worth, Texas. He came upon a man with amputated legs selling paper and pens outside of a department store. The man was yelling out, “pretty paper,” hence where the title of Nelson’s song came from.
Though Nelson wrote “Pretty Paper” himself, he originally gave the song to Roy Orbison. Orbison recorded and released it in 1963, and it wasn’t until 1979 that Nelson re-recorded it and put it on his Christmas album.
In Pretty Paper: A Christmas Tale, released Oct. 25, Nelson tackles the story that inspired his song so many years ago. It tells of Nelson walking to Leonard’s Department Store to buy gifts for his family. On the way, he passes a street vendor singing, “Pretty paper! Pretty ribbons of blue… wrap your presents to your darling from you… pretty pencils to write ‘I love you.’”
Nelson doesn’t stop, because just like everyone else, he is swept up with the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping. After buying his gifts, he goes back to look for the man to have him wrap them, but he’s nowhere to be found.
Nelson learns about the man through a diary that he left behind on the street. According to Penguin, “Deeply moved and spurred on by Vernon’s pages, Willie aims to give the man one last shot at redemption and a chance to embody the holiday spirit.”
You can purchase the book now online or on bookshelves across the country.