Late Night OTB – Paul Thorn
More whimsical than most of my selections but we could use that right about now.
Tonight’s artist is a little bit of a departure for our music fest. While still in the Americana genre, Paul Thorn’s songs are more whimsical than most that I post here. But we could use some of that right about now.
Like some other musicians I’ve featured of late, Thorn has been around quite a long time but somehow escaped my attention until recently. His Wikipedia bio is short but interesting:
Thorn was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin but raised in Tupelo, Mississippi after a family move when he was an infant.
Before his professional music career began he was a professional boxer. Boxing career highlights include winning the Mid-South Middleweight Championship in Memphis, Tennessee and a nationally televised bout with former world champion Roberto Durán, After a few years of working in a Tupelo furniture factory and playing in local clubs he was discovered by music professional Miles Copeland (brother of The Police drummer Stewart Copeland).
In 1997, while performing at a singer-songwriters night at a local pizza shop (Vanelli’s), Roger Sovine representing BMI overheard Thorn and was impressed with his singing and song writing ability. He asked Thorn if he had his permission to share his name with other record companies in Nashville. A couple weeks later, Thorn called vOz Vanelli (owner of Vanelli’s) and mentioned that several record companies were coming to Tupelo to hear him perform. Thorn asked if he could come and play at Vanelli’s which vOz agreed to. After hearing Thorn perform, Wyatt Easterling (an associate of Miles Copeland III) brought Thorn to Nashville and within thirty days, Thorn opened for Sting. Thorn was subsequently signed to a recording contract with A&M Records and recorded his first album, Hammer & Nail, in 1997. He left A&M soon after and followed Hammer & Nail with thirteen more albums, all self-released and self-produced with his writing and production partner, Billy Maddox.
Thorn’s 2010 album Pimps and Preachers debuted at No. 83 on the Billboard 200 chart, his highest chart position to date. His 2012 album What the Hell Is Going On was the 12th Most Played Album of 2012 on the Americana Music Association Year-End Chart. What the Hell Is Going On was Thorn’s first album to feature the songwriting of other artists and the second record of his to debut on the Billboard Top 100 during its first week of release.
Thorn has toured as an opening act for Huey Lewis & the News, Sting, John Prine, Marianne Faithfull, Mark Knopfler, Robert Cray, Bonnie Raitt, Toby Keith and Jeff Beck, Jerry Jeff Walker.
In 2014, Thorn released Too Blessed to Be Stressed, which he described as a collection of “positive anthem songs.” “I wrote these songs hoping they might put people in a positive mindset and encourage them to count their own blessings, like I count mine,” Thorn observes. “There’s no higher goal I could set for myself than to help other people find some happiness and gratitude in their lives.”
The first of his songs I can recall hearing, and it wasn’t all that long ago, was “I Don’t Like Half the Folks I Love,” off 2010’s Pimps and Preachers:
Here’s the title track from that album:
And here’s the title track from 2012’s What the Hell Is Going On:
“I Guess I’ll Just Stay Married” is amusing mostly because of the earnestness with which he sings the lyrics:
It doesn’t appear to have been on any of his studio albums but was included with the DVD for 2006’s So Far So Good: Best Of The Paul Thorn Band Live.