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Mojo & the blues

Posted by E. on December 11, 1999

In Reply to: Got my mojo working posted by SMT on December 09, 1999

: : : I would like to know what this phrase means. Mojo in the dictionary means magic or voodoo. Is this the meaning of this phrase as it is used today. Need a quick reply for an article I am writing. Thanks for you help.

: : "MOJO - Originally a magical charm. By extension, a source of personal magic that one can tap into, enabling you to work magic on something or to put somebody under your spell. 'You got yo mojo workin, but it ain gon work on me!' Derived from moco'o, literally, 'medicine man,' in the Fula language of West Africa." From Black Talk: Words and Phrases from the Hood to the Amen Corner by Geneva Smitherman. (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994)

: : A more extensive discussion of root doctors and mojos is in "Blue Roots: African Folk Magic of the Gullah People" a book about a group of people South Carolina by Roger Pinckney. (Llewllyn Publications, 1998). "The root doctor probably got his name from the herbal origins of his practice.But 'the root' may not contain any herbs at all. The root is a charm, a mojo, a gris-gris, a hand, meant to be carried, worn, chewed, or buried, depending on its use and intent."

: The phrase "got my mojo working" may come from a blues song (John Lee Hooker?) by the same name. The chorus, as I recall goes:

: I got my mojo working
: I got my mojo working
: I got my mojo working
: But ain't working on you

Yes, one's mojo is a common theme in blues songs. I'll have to re-listen to some of my CDs (if I can get my kids to stop listening to that X@#!* Marilyn Manson) and post some of the lyrics. One I can remember is an exchange between a man and a woman. She said, "...honey, I done seen your mojo and it ain't nothing but a joke."