array(0) { } The Street Seller at the Sidewalk: Who Inspired Willie Nelson to Write “Pretty Paper”?

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The Street Seller at the Sidewalk: Who Inspired Willie Nelson to Write “Pretty Paper”?


As we ponder on the progress of our lives, we cannot elaborate on what happened from the first day up until the present. Some memories are vague, while some are just remnants of the past that we can be reminded of but cannot in fading memory. However, there are some instances we can clearly remember no matter how long years have gone by.

This happened to Willie Nelson as he wrote a song dedicated to a handicapped street vendor in his old studio, where he worked as a DJ before becoming a popular country musician. He entitled the song “Pretty Paper,” and the singer Roy Orbison interpreted it in 1963. This became one of the greatest Christmas hits in the 70s.

The title “Pretty Paper” was a song referenced from a street vendor in Fort Worth who used to get the passerby’s attention by shouting “pretty paper, pretty paper!” about the Christmas gift wrapper he was selling on the sidewalk. The image of this, who turned out to be a handicapped person, got mind-stuck on Willie Nelson even after he moved from Texas to Nashville to seek a career in country music. After many decades, columnists and other people appeared in search of the man behind the song. Later on, a man from Santo, Palo Pinto County, revealed that they were looking for his neighbor named, Frankie Brierton. They used to reach out to this street vendor but to no avail, because he already passed away in 1973, according to his daughter named, Lillian Compte. She also revealed that the cause of her father’s disability was his spinal disorder since he was a child. Pretty Paper song hit successfully because of his legacy on the sidewalk.

Willie Nelson songs were one of the greatest in country music. “Pretty Paper” reached its highest position in the U.S. The Billboard Hot 100. Later, Willie cut two versions of the song for his holiday album: one in 1964 and another in 1979.

Watch the video for the Pretty Paper from Willie Nelson’s Greatest Hits in 1963.

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