"The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch" as written by and Brian Eno....
My, my, my, we're treating each other just like strangers
You can't ignore the significance of these changes
But you can't treat it lightly and you'll
Have to face the consequences
All my worst fears are grounded
You'll have to make the choice between the Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch and me (no no no no)

By this time I got to looking for a kind of substitute
I can't tell you who I found except that it rhymes with "dissolute"
But my baby's so lazy she is
Almost unable and it's
Driving me crazy and her
Loving's just a fable that we sometimes try with passion to recall (oh no no no)

Send for an ambulance or an
Accident investigator
He's breathing like a furnace so I'll
See you later, alligator
He'll set the sheets on fire
Mmm, quite a burning lover
Now he'll barbecue your kitten
Just another learner lover
Now you'll have to make the choice between the Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch and me...


Lyrics submitted by whapcapn

"The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch" as written by Brian Eno

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch song meanings
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4 Comments

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  • 0
    General CommentEno confirmed that the "Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch" was actually a man named A. W. Underwood, who lived in Paw Paw, Michigan in the 19th century, and was rumored to set things on fire with his breath. Every time I hear this song, it always sounds to me that it starts like a Steely Dan-ish tune and then melts down and rocks out into that wonderfully noisy conclusion that segues into "Baby's on Fire".
    beccarmanon December 19, 2008   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningWhat "dissolute" rhymes with? (don't live in english-speaking country)
    kamil652on February 17, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is a prototypical Eno song, upbeat tune, very sinister lyrics. Though the "Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch" refers to an actual person (an African-American from Paw Paw, Michigan with alleged pyrokinetic abilities), the "Paw Paw" is also Dadaistic and allows Eno to make his narrator seem very angry, on the edge of unreason.

    The third stanza can be taken either as a description of the narrator setting his lost love and her paramour ("the paw paw negro blowtorch") afire in their love bed, or of the paramour's intense but inept love-making

    ("He's breathing like a furnace so I'll
    See you later, alligator
    He'll set the sheets on fire
    Mmm, quite a burning lover
    Now he'll barbecue your kitten
    Just another learner lover")

    The "Now he'll barbecue your kitten" is almost certainly meant to be an ambiguous reference to his love's pudendum ("kitty" being a cognate in English with "pussy").

    "Just another learner lover" is a parting shot at the girl he's talking to... that the man she's seeing instead of him is inexperienced, all physical passion, no substance.

    An early case of Eno taking a meme (like "the paw paw negro blowtorch") and using it for his own ends to make a song euphonious while adding emotional depth unrelated to the original meaning of the meme. `
    loupgarouson June 02, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe synth solo on this song is unbelievable, and fits well with the theme.
    rocketmorton October 18, 2014   Link

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