We’re way overdue for a new Country Catalyst, the Special Feature that offers a country music song to a wider audience, and I thought I’d combine it with something appropriate to the season. It’s a song that might be familiar to you — it’s been around a long time — but you might not have realized it was a Christmas song unless you listened closely to the lyrics. And if it seems at first to be about the gifting aspects of the holiday, you will soon realize it has a different subject and a deeper meaning.
Way back in the early 1960s, when Willie Nelson‘s singing career was having trouble getting started in a big way, he was nevertheless building quite a reputation as a Nashville songwriter. It was along about then that he wrote a song named “Pretty Paper,” inspired by a legless man Nelson had noticed selling holiday paper, ribbons, and pencils in front of a Ft. Worth department store.
The song was soon recorded by Roy Orbison, who was already a big star at the time, and he turned it into a solid hit. Of course, Nelson didn’t wait too long before making a record of the song himself, and in the years since it’s been recorded by a number of singers, including Merle Haggard, Glen Campbell, Randy Travis, and Chris Isaak.