We've talked to a lot of songwriters. Many are products of the towns they came from or the ones they cut their musical teeth in. Many are part of a certain crowd, or school. Some are lone wolves who just seem to come out of nowhere, when they were just developing in their sphere.
Born in Elvisville (Tupelo, MS), the son of a Pentecostal preacher, Paul Thorn had the unique background of singing to congregations since early childhood. Connecting with and getting over with the crowd was in his blood from the start. For a songwriter, the other unique aspect of his youth was his passion for pugilism. His uncle started to train him as a boxer in his early teens, and he rose quickly through the local and regional ranks. He reached the pinnacle of that all-consuming career at 24, when he faced one of the greatest fighters in history, Roberto Duran. He lasted seven rounds with the legend, and by all accounts got his licks in before the referee called it off because he was cut badly and bleeding into his eye, a technical knockout. On his very next fight, Roberto Duran became the champion of the world.
Thorn was working in a chair factory and playing little gigs at night, I mean like pizza parlors, in Birmingham, Alabama. Miles Copeland, the legendary manager and brother of Stewart (who drummed for the Police), happened to catch one of these gigs, and "discovered" him. Of these days, Thorn says, "When I got my first record deal, I was literally plucked from a chair factory and flown to Los Angeles. Everyone told me how great I was and famous I would soon be..." And he did record his debut for Atlantic in 1997 (Hammer and Nail) and one for Miles' Ark 21 records three later (Ain't Love Strange.)
Early on, Thorn had joined songwriting forces with a Nashville veteran named Billy Maddox, who'd already had success as a writer. And for many years, the two have been a team, in song and in business. By the new millennium, Paul had hooked up with Back Porch Records. He cut Mission Temple Fireworks Stand in 2002, and his latest is Are You With Me? Every one I heard rang of greatness, but his latest is my favorite, because it's the smoothest, the most R&B of the releases, horns and all.
But that's not all. He's also a painter, on the primitive side. And Howard Finster was a friend of his, as he talks about in the interview to come. And we talk about skydiving, and songwriting, and fighting Roberto Duran. Yeah, I never met anybody like Paul Thorn before. I'll wager to say that you haven't either. Get ready to meet your new favorite songwriter. Oh, and check out the killer clips on our Listen page. He's also got a new live DVD (with Duran footage!) on sale at his mighty cool website, check it out. For us, Paul Thorn is a major find, and a major dude.