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Why I Love Paul Thorn

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He's Hard to Define

Paul Thorn grew up in Tupelo Mississippi, the birthplace of Elvis. He was the son of a Pentecostal preacher. It's a background left him well versed in music, and showmanship. This is no Christian Rock though; there's plenty of sinning going on in these songs.

Paul Thorn's music is hard to define. Some of his songs are hard rockin,' others soft and sweet. Whatever the style, the lyrics are sure to be evocative; they'll either make you laugh or cry. It has elements of Southern Rock, Country, Blues and Rock, but he has said that Americana is the genre that “took him in.” Paul's CD, A Long Way from Tupelo, was #11 on the Americana Music Association’s Top 100 chart of 2008.

He has three albums that charted in the Billboard top 100. Pimps And Preachers, in 2010, What The Hell Is Goin' On? in 2012 and Too Blessed To Be Stressed, in 2014.

He Tells Stories

He is a man who has a way with words. At his live shows, Paul Thorn will often tell a little story when he is introducing his next song. The stories are humorous, quirky and charming, delivered in his delightful southern drawl.

One of his favorites is about a time when he worked at a chair factory as a young man. His boss caught him writing songs when he was supposed to be building chairs.

The boss said, "Boy, do you want to work or write songs?"

Paul replied softly, "Write songs."

I think you can guess how that turned out. Paul’s career at the chair factory ended, and he devoted himself to music full time.

He Has His Own Record Label

Self-produced by choice, Paul likes the freedom it gives him. He has said that if you "sign on with the big dogs, then you have to play what they tell you.” That is not part of his agenda.

Paul was a pioneer in this new kind of music distribution. The Internet offers freedom to independent, self-producing musicians like him. No longer shackled by record company contracts, they can play what they love. They are the future of music.

Even the art on his CD covers is by Paul Thorn himself. He released his last five CDs under his own label "Perpetual Obscurity."

He is a People Person

Paul takes time to talk to fans at his shows, and posts daily for his Facebook fans. He uses technology as a tool for promoting his music and connecting with people. He is building his fan base one person at a time.

It is not all just about promotion though; he tours steadily, and puts 100% effort into every show. No matter the size of the venue, he appreciates his audience. He wants to give them an experience they will still be talking about the next day.

Paul Thorn's CD's an Overview

Paul Thorn has recorded seven studio albums.

1997 - Hammer and Nail

1999 - Ain't Love Strange

2002 - Mission Temple Fireworks Stand

2008 - A Long Way from Tupelo

2010 - Pimps and Preachers

2012 - What the Hell Is Goin' On?

2014 - Too Blessed to be Stressed

I will give you a sample of one song off each of the CDs in chronological order.


Hammer and Nail

Paul Thorn was a professional boxer. In 1988, he was the #29 ranked middle-weight in the world, and he fought a nationally televised bout with Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran. It is a wonderful story, and he often uses as a lead-in to the title track of his first album, Hammer and Nail.

I'm sorry, the video is not the best quality. It's a great song though.

Ain't Love Strange

His distinct southern style is front and center in songs like "Burn Down the Trailer Park" on Paul Thorn's second album Ain't Love Strange.

Here he is, singing the title track from that album with Delbert McClinton and Elvin Bishop.

Mission Temple Fireworks Stand

Thorn has a dynamic personality, and a wicked and irreverent sense of humor. He often blends vivid sexual and religious imagery shamelessly in the same song.

He's ready for an old fashioned tent revival on the title track of my favorite Paul Thorn album, Mission Temple Fireworks Stand.

A Long Way From Tupelo

Here is the title song from Paul's album, A Long Way From Tupelo. This video is from Delbert McClinton's Sandy Beaches Cruise. That's where I first saw Paul and his band.

He tells a cute story in the intro.

Pimps and Preachers

The title song on the Pimps and Preachers album is autobiographical. It is based on Paul's two mentors. His dad was a preacher, and his dad's brother was once a pimp (he's since changed his ways). Thorn says he learned valuable lessons from both men.

Not only does this album have great music on it, I love the artwork on this CD cover. Paul Thorn did the drawing.

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What the Hell is Going On

In a departure from his usual pattern of using all original material, Paul's album What the Hell is Going On is all covers. They aren't just any covers though, they are somewhat obscure selections, songs you may not have heard, songs that have inspired him as a songwriter. The legendary Elvin Bishop wrote the title track.

Too Blessed to be Stressed

Paul Thorn's album To Blessed to be Stressed is an album of feel-good songs. It was released in January of 2014. He says he got the name of the album from a remark that he heard an old woman make to the minister after church one day.

He Sings What He Knows

Paul Thorn’s songs are about what he knows. The characters in them are people of “meager means.” They live in trailer parks; they work in factories or at the Dairy Queen. They are strippers, dealers, preachers, sinners and backsliders. They visit the lonely old widow down the street and get married in a back yard strung with Christmas lights.

Even though he left the church when he was a young man, his religious upbringing is still a strong influence in his life and on his songs.

Along with his manager and songwriting partner, Billy Mattox, and his band, he has made music his full-time job since 1997. Each year his success grows. I look forward to many more stories and songs from Paul Thorn.

Don't Miss Him!

A live Paul Thorn show is an experience not to be missed. If he comes to your town, go see him!

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3 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

Thanks for the introduction. I've never heard of him but I like what I heard here.


Sherry Hewins profile image

Sherry Hewins 5 weeks ago from Sierra Foothills, CA Author

Thanks billybuc. You've heard of him now!


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 weeks ago from Central Florida

I'd never heard of Paul Thorn before reading this article. I love him! He rocks! I'd love to see him in concert. Of course, it would have to be an outdoor concert so I can dance. I really like his sound and energy.

Thanks for this introduction, Sherry!

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