Puremusic: So you've been out Christmas shopping.
Paul Thorn: Yeah, today. I got pretty much the whole month of December off. I've worked so much this year, I'm just taking this month off. So today I went into the dreaded Christmas shopping scene.
PM: Yeah, I mean, when you go into the mall and you get hit with it, it's frickin' unbelievable.
PT: It is. This ain't what they meant when Jesus was laying there in the manger.
PM: I've become a big Paul Thorn fan this last week that I've been absorbing the hell out of your records. It's really amazing the body of work you've been racking up.
PT: Well, thanks, man.
PM: I've been listening to Ain't Love Strange? and Mission Temple Fireworks Stand, but especially Are You With Me?, the latest record.
PT: Yeah. I'm the most famous guy you've never heard of.
PM: You know where I heard of you? Two friends of mine have been telling me about you for years, Bob Britt and Arthur Godfrey.
PT: Yeah, I know both them fellas. Bob played on some of my albums. And me and Arthur have done a few shows together.
PM: Yep. And those are two very different guys to be touting your greatness.
PM: But they both are. And Bob, it's hard to get two words out of him, so if he's saying, "Hey Frank, you really ought to check out this guy, Paul Thorn, he's great..."
PT: Oh, he's a hell of a guitar player.
PM: His brother, Tom, too, is a bad dude. I don't know if you've ever met him.
PT: I don't know that I've met his brother.
PM: Well, when Bob is out with John Fogerty, Tom is usually out with Vince Gill.
PT: Oh, okay.
PM: So it's like that. But you got to be one of the best songwriters running around the self-produced--I mean, even though you're on Back Porch Records, really, you're an indie artist, because of the spirit that you do it in,
PT: Absolutely. Well, actually, I'm not on Back Porch anymore. I'm done. There was a certain amount of things we agreed they were supposed to do for me to continue with them, and like most record companies, they didn't do anything, so--
PM: What a shock.
PT: --I'm happily back on my own again.
PM: And to me, when I listen to those records, there's something very indie about the spirit of that artist, anyway.
PT: Well, thanks for saying that.
PM: There's just such a strong force going on. I mean, I listen to lots of Back Porch and other small label records, but they don't have the stamp that your records do.
PT: Well, thanks man. I appreciate that. You keep talking like that, I may actually wind up liking myself.
PM: Well, we don't want to get radical, now.
Because your albums seem to be a couple of years apart, you must be getting ready to fire one up.
PT: Yeah, I'm going to start cutting a new album in January, actually. But the current project is the Paul Thorn concert DVD, which just came out.
PM: Oh, I saw a couple of clips from that on the site.
PM: That thing is hella good.
PT: Yeah. It's a concert, and there's an extra on there that's a documentary that was shot in 1993 about when I fought Roberto Duran.
PM: Oh, my God. You mean, does it have clips of the fight, or it's a film about the fight?
PT: Yes, it's got clips of the fight and me talking about it, yeah.
PM: Holy jeez. So let's talk about that for a minute. What year was it that you fought Hands of Stone?
PT: I fought Duran in 1988.
PM: How much longer did he fight after '88? I can't remember.
PT: He fought into the year 2000. He went into the Guinness Book of World Records, actually, as being the only fighter to ever successfully fight in five decades: the '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s and 2000.
PM: That's unbelievable.
PT: Yeah, yeah. And when I fought him, in his next fight after he beat me, he actually won the Middleweight Championship of the World from Iran Barkley.
PM: Holy crap!
PT: Yeah, he was a monster, man.
PM: How did you ever last seven last rounds with the Hands of Stone? That's like a lifetime.
PT: Well, I mean, clearly I couldn't win against somebody like him. But I was in the top ten in the United States in my weight class.
PM: Really? Well, you must have been to go up against him.
PT: Well, I guess I have to brag a little bit.
PT: I mean, I was good. I was a good fighter. I beat a lot of really good fighters. But there's a difference in being a good fighter and being the one of the greatest that ever put the gloves on. And he was that. And at the time--well, this film that's on the DVD, at the time it was done, I was still working in the chair factory, and there's actually a film of me working in the chair factory, and doing my job, because this film company, they just kind of spent some time with me during that period, and they sort of accidentally discovered me. They just did a film about me being a factory worker/professional boxer/guy singing in pizza restaurants in Tupelo.
But anyway, when I fought Duran--you know he's known for his punching power. And clearly, he punched hard. But the thing that really stood out in my mind about Roberto Duran was really not his punching power--because I fought a lot of guys who hit hard, if not harder--but what made him difficult to fight was his ability to avoid getting hit. He had this amazing ability to anticipate what punch you were fixing to throw, and he would move out of the way before the punch would even get there.
PT: And to me, as a former professional fighter, that was his true gift. It wasn't his punching power, because lots of fighters hit hard, but it was his unbelievable ability to make you miss. And when he would make you miss, he would make you pay for it by counter punching.
PM: Right. I love to watch boxing.
PT: He would let you throw yours, and then he would duck under it, and then hit you in your vulnerable spot before you could recall and reset yourself.
PT: So that was his gift. And at the end of six rounds, I sat on my stool. And I was doing okay in the fight, actually. I mean, cut him over his eye, and I got some punches in.
PM: Yeah. continue