Pretty Paper by Willie Nelson

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Pretty PaperAn interesting story that Willie Nelson has put together about how he came to write Pretty Paper which is just one of his many country hits. Willie, along with song writing and singing, writes books, both fiction and non-fiction. And to be honest much like his music his books are really great.

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This particular story starts in the early 1960’s. It explains how Willie was out shopping in Fort Worth, Texas for Christmas items for his family when he noticed a fellow sitting in front of a department store selling Christmas items. The fellow had no legs and was sitting on a four-wheeled board that also held paper, ribbon, and other Christmas items. The fellow supposedly was half singing and half shouting, “Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons of Blue….”. Willie was in awe for the moment but then continued on his way.

However later on the scene and the words of the song seemed to linger in Willie’s head so he went back to find the gentleman and talk to him about the situation. When he finds him the gentleman, who turns out to be Vernon Clay, is almost hostile and not at all into getting friendly or discussing his talents.

Since Willie was working at a country music bar in the area he had the occasion to continue to look for and search out Vernon. However most of the searching went unrewarded as Vernon seemed to be very stand-offish. However Willie’s friend where he worked had also seen the fellow around and knew that he was living behind a small Chili and Rice type of restaurant close by. Willie went there and though he didn’t get to see Vernon’ He did not only eat and enjoy the rice/chili meal that the man and wife who owned the little restaurant made but he struck up a conversation with them, became quite friendly and explained how he was trying to meet up with Vernon.

Essie, the wife, knowing of Willie and his musical engagements around the area felt that it would be good for Willie to try again so she took him back to meet up with Vernon in his room. Again it was pretty much a lost cause as Vernon did not seem to want to engage in any friendly talk or anything. However they did speak for a bit and Willie learned a little about Vernon’s background.

Some weeks later when Willie went back again Essie explained that Vernon had moved away to somewhere else without leaving any kind of forwarding address. However he did leave a stack of Pretty Papers (of many colors) with writing on them that he asked Essie to give to Willie if and when he came back.

Willie takes the papers and begins reading which in effect than brings out the telling of the story regarding Pretty Paper and Vernon’s early life. As Willie reads he discovers many, many things about Vernon and his musical background. He has to continue searching for Vernon and the story moves on.

It also explains somethings about why he is so stand-offish and unfriendly toward most others. For some reason however he did key in on Willie’s kindness and thus told the whole story. This is a great read especially if you are a country music fan and like to hear how music develops. Great job by Mr. Willie Nelson!