Song of the week – Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch

Brian Eno has influenced so many great artists today, and he is considered one of the elites of the creation of blissful ambient music. This song of the week took place in 1974, and is sadly an unreleased work with The Winkies. Brian Eno sang lead in the song called Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch, an unapologetic tongue-in-cheek rock song. The title is unique, but it has a meaning and a historical significance:

Regarding Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch, here’s a paragraph from WILD TALENTS by Charles Fort, the American chronicler of the strange and unexplained:

In the NEW YORK SUN, Dec. 1, 1882, is an account of the occult powers of A.W. Underwood, a Negro, aged 24, of Paw Paw Michigan. The account, copied from the MICHIGAN MEDICAL NEWS, was written by Dr. L. C. Woodman, of Paw Paw. It was Dr. Woodman’s statement that he was convinced that Underwood’s phenomena were genuine. “He will take anybody’s handkerchief, and hold it to his mouth, rub it vigorously, while breathing on it, and immediately it bursts into flames, and burns until consumed. He will strip, and will rinse out his mouth thoroughly, and submit to the most rigorous examination to preclude the possibility of any humbug, and then by his breath, blown upon any paper, or cloth, envelop it in flames. He will, while out gunning, lie down, after collecting dry leaves, and by breathing on them start a fire.”

The recording quality isn’t high quality, it was likely ripped from an 8-track, given the time period of the song. However, it’s still exceptional rock that today’s garage-rock-revival bands are trying to recreate. The guitar style in Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch later went on to influence U2’s “Where The Streets Have No Name.”

2 Responses to “Song of the week – Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch”

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  1. Paris

    this song is recorded on an Eno album, his first solo–Here Comes The Warm Jets.
    I regret too that there are no versions out on CD of Winkies but there you are.
    So believe me, you have to make the choice between the Paw Paw Negro Blow Torch and me. I liked the historical allusion. Could it be Eno never heard of this guy but picked up the expression in a gay bar (I know he is and was straight, so why would he be in a gay bar. Well look at pictures of him)

  2. Jimmy

    # The village of Paw Paw is referenced in the song “Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch” on Brian Eno’s first solo album Here Come the Warm Jets. In the book More Dark Than Shark (ISBN 0571138101), Eno explained that the song was inspired by the case of a man named A.W. Underwood from Paw Paw in the late 19th century who was rumored to create fires by simply breathing on objects. [2]

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