Thursday, May 22, 2008

It depends on the definition of “working”

Driving back from St. Louis yesterday my wife and I were listening to old blues CDs. Listening to Muddy Water's "I've Got my Mojo Working" I started wondering about what he meant when he said he had his "mojo working." He had gone down to Louisiana to get it, he had it working but "it just don't work on you." Had it ever worked on anyone? By "working" did he simply mean that he had prepared it and was using it according to the instructions? Or did he know it was "working" because it worked on some people, just not on "you"? My wife is strongly of the opinion that he would only say it was working if it had worked on someone. I am not so sure. Would you say you have a magic spell "working" if you had set it into action, regardless of results? What do you think? I have put up a poll on this question over on the right.


Matt said...

i voted "other" in a joking manner because Muddy is not the original songwriter.

but seriously though... lyrical mastery like that (no matter whose rendition you listen to) just isn't around anymore. i can't stand about 95% of blues music nowadays because it's so formulaic and sickeningly uninspiring that it drives me mad.

just curious, ever listen to Otha Turner? he was a pretty interesting fella.

Dennis Moran said...

Well, the word 'mojo' is African in origin and means 'life force' (I knew it was something of the sort and just looked it up).
I don't think you have to listen to a lot of Muddy Waters before realizing that he tended to interpret a lot of such folk terminology in a sexual way. So your question to my mind is, did he ever have success with other women before the woman in the song turns him down? My guess would be 'yes.' Because, keep in mind, he also had a John the Conqueror root, and a black cat bone.

BTW, hands down the most mojo-inspiring performance I ever witnessed was Muddy at the Black Stallion Lounge in Bettendorf in 1979. When it was over I could only weep. The man WAS a life force.

Dave Barrett said...

Wikipedia defines mojo like this:
Mojo (pronounced /ˈmoʊdʒoʊ/) is a term commonly encountered in the African-American folk belief called hoodoo. A mojo is a type of magic charm, often of red flannel cloth and tied with a drawstring, containing botanical, zoological, and/or mineral curios, petition papers, and the like. It is typically worn under clothing.

I think the lyrics of "I've Got my Mojo working" suggest this meaning since it talks about going down to Louisiana to get the mojo.

So my question remains. Does the song author, Preston Foster, (thank's for pointing out that it was not Muddy, Matt) simply mean by "I've got my mojo working" that he has deployed his magic charm without suggesting that it has actually "worked" on anyone?