Got My Mojo Working

Album: Got My Mojo Working (1957)


  • This was written by a little-known blues musician named Preston Foster, and was first released by the gospel singer Ann Cole in 1956. Muddy Waters toured with Cole and picked up the song from her, adding some lyrics to his version. Waters popularized the song and it became a blues standard.
  • A "mojo" is a kind of magic charm that is a key element of the Hoodoo practice, a form of folk magic developed by African American slaves in the early United States. Other terms include "conjure hand," "lucky hand," "trick bag," "mojo bag," "gris-gris bag," or, as Waters sings on this track, a "mojo hand."

    Going down to Louisiana, gonna get me a mojo hand
    Gonna have all you women under my command

    Waters is looking for a very specific kind of mojo - one for attraction, since the one he has isn't working on the girl he desires.

    The term mojo "hand," specifically, may have developed because some of the common ingredients in mojo bags were and finger bones of animals or humans. Another source for the term may have been Lucky Hand root, a rare orchid root often used in mojo hands. Still another possible source may is the likening of the mixed-up mojo bag ingredients and the cards mixed up in a "hand" of cards.
  • Many blues musicians sang about their mojos, but this one is the most prominent (others include "Scarey Day Blues" By Blind Willie McTell and "Mojo Hand" by Lightnin' Hopkins). The concept of the mojo has been distorted and misinterpreted over the years as it became appropriated by a white audience. The "mojo" is often thought of as a concept - a kind of life force or sexual energy - when it is actually a tangible object. A lot of this has to do with Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors, who declared himself "Mr. Mojo Risin'" in the song "L.A. Woman."

    It's likely that Morrison heard this song and realized that "Mr. Mojo Risin'" is an anagram for "Jim Morrison." He then cast it in terms of his sexual prowess, and many believed he was singing specifically about his penis. The word "mojo" has since been used as the name of a magazine, a mountain bike, a radio format, and as the moniker for many DJs, writers and musicians looking for an edgy appellation.
  • Some of the artists who recorded this include Chuck Berry, Canned Heat, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Manfred Mann, Carl Perkins and Jimmy Rogers. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band recorded it on their first album in 1966 as "I Got My Mojo Working." Elvin Bishop, who was a guitarist in the band and later had the solo hit "Fooled Around And Fell In Love," said: "If you were in Chicago in 1960, as I was, every blues band in Chicago played that tune. And here it is in the 2000s, and half the blues bands you go and see now play 'Got My Mojo Working.' If you've ever seen he first Paul Butterfield album, the album cover, the picture was taken in front of a store that sold that kind of stuff. It's magic charms and lucky oil, and different things, different kinds of powder you can sprinkle around the bed. It's voodoo magic stuff." (Check out our interview with Elvin Bishop.)

Comments: 2

  • Willie from Scottsdale, Azaka McKinley Morganfield.
  • Nick from London, United KingdomMuddy Waters caught Ann Cole on tour in 1956 and was so impressed with her version of the Preston Foster song that he reworked the lyrics and attempted to copyright it as his own. The original publishers, Dare Records, were none too pleased but the matter was settled out of court resulting in the ambiguous situation of two separately copyrighted versions, although in recent years, Chess has credited the song to Foster. Ann Cole began her career with the family spiritual group, The Colemanaires, who made a number of recordings for Ann's uncle's own label, the Coleman Recording Company. In 1954, she cut four singles for Timely Records, before Baton took up her contract releasing Are You Satisfied as the first single.
    Rhythm and Blues Magazine, July 1957, 'It seems that the fabulous young belter of the blues, Miss Ann Cole, has finally dug into a good luck treasure chest and has come up with the winning sound that has her on the hit kick... if "Mo-Jo" means the power of producing hit records, then it sure is working for lovely little Ann... hip yourself to the happenings.'
    Nick Duckett

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