Country Throwback: Marty Robbins Once Recorded Willie Nelson Christmas Song ‘Pretty Paper’

by Halle Ames
Country-Throwback-Marty-Robbins-Once-Recorded-Willie-Nelson-Christmas-Song-Pretty-Paper

From one country legend to another, we remember when Marty Robbins did a cover of Willie Nelson’s hit country Christmas song, “Pretty Paper.”

Marty Robbins

Although the song wasn’t on the only Christmas album, Marty Robbins released when he was alive titled Christmas With Marty Robbins, it was featured in the one released in his memory

After Robbins’ death in 1982, an album containing his cover of unreleased Christmas favorite made its way to mourning fans. The album called, A Christmas Remembered featured hits such as “Jingle Bell Rock,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and, of course, “Pretty Paper.”

“Pretty Paper” Inspiration

Prior to making his way to fame as a singer, Willie Nelson was a songwriter. His song “Pretty Paper” helped put his name on the map. Today, it is known as one of the most famous country Christmas hits, and Willie Nelson is a household name. 

Nelson says that the inspiration for the tune came from a street vendor in Fort Worth, Texas. The artist used to see this man that had both his legs amputated selling items like pens and pencils outside department stores. 

To catch the attention of the bustling folks around him, the man would yell into the crowd, “pretty paper,” recalls Nelson. He said it would only be right to title the song “Pretty Paper” in his honor. 

Roy Orbison Records Song Over Willie Nelson

Marty Robbins was not the only one known for covering the song Willie Nelson wrote. After Nelson signed a deal with Monument Records in Nashville, he showed the hit to producer Fred Foster and the record labels founder. They loved it, however, not for Nelson. Foster saw potential in it and sent it to fellow singer and songwriter Roy Orbison, nicknamed “the Big O.”

Orbison was the first person to record the song, and it was released in 1963. “Pretty Paper” peaked at number 10 for Orbison on the Adult Contemporary Chart. It also hit the 15th spot on the Hot 100. 

Willie Nelson couldn’t let Orbison take all the credit, so Nelson released his version of the song the next year.  

[H/T Classic Country Music]

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