Wynona's Big Brown Beaver

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"Wynona's Big Brown Beaver"
Wynona's Big Brown Beaver (Primus single - cover art).jpg
Single by Primus
from the album Tales from the Punchbowl
GenreExperimental metal
Songwriter(s)Les Claypool/Larry LaLonde/Tim Alexander
Primus singles chronology
"Mr. Krinkle"
"Wynona's Big Brown Beaver"
"Mrs. Blaileen"

"Wynona's Big Brown Beaver" is a song by the American rock band Primus. It was released as the first single from their 1995 album Tales from the Punchbowl. It was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance in 1996. Of the 3 band's members, only guitarist Larry LaLonde showed up at the event. The award went to Pearl Jam for their song "Spin the Black Circle".[1]

AXS considered it the band's best song.[2]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Wynona's Big Brown Beaver" – 4:23
  2. "Hello Skinny/Constantinople" – 4:44 (originally by The Residents)
  3. "Hellbound 17½ (Theme From)" – 2:59
  4. "Have a Cigar" – 5:26 (originally by Pink Floyd) (only available on German edition of the single)

Music and lyrics[edit]

The song epitomizes Primus's musical eccentricities, wherein the group's signature funk metal stylings are inflected with a sound vaguely reminiscent of bluegrass and southern rock. During the song's guitar solos, Larry LaLonde's playing shifts from "noise" guitar in the first solo to a country-sounding technique and banjo-style finger-picking on the second (inspired by The Grateful Dead late singer/guitarist Jerry Garcia). The song's lyrics constitute an absurd, rambling tale about a woman named Wynona and her "beaver". They combine sexual double entendre in "beaver" with the purely nonsensical silliness typical of the band (e.g., strange references to baboons, Taco Bell 7-layer burritos, carnies, bumper cars, cocaine and porcupines).

Music video[edit]

The band also filmed a music video for "Wynona's Big Brown Beaver", centered on the band dressed as cartoonish plastic cowboys in costumes made of foam rubber. The costumes bore a strong resemblance to those used in a popular Duracell advertising campaign at the time which featured a family of battery-powered, toy-like people (the Puttermans). In an interview, bandleader Les Claypool revealed the suits were intended to resemble "cheap plastic cowboy action figures". The video jumps between shots of the band playing in a barn and of the band engaged in parodies of cowboy activities such as shooting bottles, riding toy horses, and playing poker among other things. The video also features some airbrushed drawings done by Claypool. The video's live action sequences were filmed at Claypool's home, known as Rancho Relaxo. The video marks the second video appearance of Les' red Fender Jazz bass.

Because the band's cowboy suits were so cumbersome, they played along to the track slowed down significantly to more easily coordinate their actions to the music; plus, this gave the illusion of the band moving rather quirky and fast when played back in regular form. In the video, Tim Alexander's bass drum reads Buck Naked and the Bare Bottom Boys. This was meant as a tribute to Phillip Bury, who went under the name Buck Naked. He was a close friend to the band, who had died in 1992. He was in the aforementioned Buck Naked and the Bare Bottom Boys. The video appeared on Primus' Tales from the Punchbowl [CD-ROM] album as well as the 2003 EP/DVD release Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People, along with an in-depth making-of feature.


Many incorrectly believed "Wynona" was about actress Winona Ryder. Claypool has stated several times that the song was not written about anyone in particular, especially Ryder, and was surprised he wasn't asked about country singer Wynonna Judd instead, considering the song's country music influence and the name being pronounced and spelled with a "y", which was closer to Judd's name.[3]

One of the song's lyrics was edited in the music video. The original line, "But the beaver was quick and grabbed him by the kiwis, and he ain't pissed for a week (and a half!)" was replaced by "But the beaver was quick and grabbed him by the kiwis, and he egg-pressed for a week (and a half!)". An alternative version also removes the line "candied up his nose" (which refers to cocaine) and the word "smell", replacing them with random sound effects.


The song appears at the beginning of Kevin Smith's film Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Similarly, Voodoo Brewery makes "Wynona's Big Brown Ale" in honor of the song and band.[4]


Chart (1995) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[5] 80
US Billboard Hot 100 Airplay 62
US Alternative Rock Tracks 12
US Mainstream Rock Tracks 23


  1. ^ "38th Grammy Awards – 1996". Rockonthenet.com. Archived from the original on December 30, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-08.
  2. ^ http://www.axs.com/primus-s-10-best-songs-46130
  3. ^ "For Primus, the punch is in energy and interplay". Baltimoresun.com. Retrieved 2015-04-15.
  4. ^ "Voodoo Brews". Voodoo Brewery. Retrieved 2009-09-20.
  5. ^ "The ARIA Australian Top 100 Singles Chart – Week Ending 06 Aug 1995". Imgur.com (original document published by ARIA). Retrieved 2017-06-01. N.B. The HP column displays the highest peak reached.

External links[edit]