And indeed most of Thorn's songs aren't played, or aren't played completely, for laughs. One of his staples is "Mission Temple Fireworks Stand," a horn-driven portrait of a black preacher who runs a tent revival and a fireworks sales outlet under the same roof. Thorn's preacher warms to his theme:
He said everything I'm selling
is all going up in smoke.
This world is like an atom bomb:
it's ready to explode.
When the trumpet sounds and the Lord comes back,
I promise you one thing:
I'll be a human bottle rocket,
and I'll go out with a bang.
Some of Thorn's songs draw on country wordplay rather than black gospel, but the mixture of humor and sharp edge is similar in songs like his new "I Don't Like Half the Folks I Love."