Tag Archives: James Cotton

Got My Mojo Working – Muddy and Cole

17 Nov

Mojo Baby Yeah!

 
How weird is it that the last Austin Powers movie was released almost a decade ago? My mojo reference is dated. No, Austin Powers is still a fresh memory. Plus, he is perfect for this post.
 
 
 
“Got My Mojo Working” is a fast-paced, haromica-driven blues song popularized by the great Muddy Waters. His 1957 version of the song became the one that most people cite when they think of this prime example of fast blues. There is no denying it. Muddy’s smooth croon and hedge-like slick black hair make the song slippery and a little dirty. What made Waters’ version so popular was its skilled use of call-and-response and James Cotton’s “I’m better than everyone here” harmonica. It is so proficient it’s scary. But when people say that Muddy Waters created this song, they are mistaken. While he did manipulate elements of this famous blues hit to fit his mold (and this definitely contributed to its popularity), the song was written by Preston Foster and first recorded by Ann Cole in 1956.
 
 
 
Cole’s version is more jump blues than traditional blues. The doo-wop background singers, backing high-pitched guitar, horns, and Cole’s poppy voice contribute to this conclusion. That is not to say that this original version is not good. No, it is great. There were lawsuits (of course) between record companies – claiming that Muddy stole the song after hearing Cole perform it. Whatever, that stuff was settled and it is unimportant. There was, however, a humorous ruling by the court when another performer claimed that songwriter Preston Foster stole the concept of “mojo” from her. This was the ruling:
 
 “MOJO is a commonplace part of the rhetoric of the culture of a substantial portion of the American people. As a figure of speech, the concept of having, or not having, one’s MOJO working is not something in which any one person could assert originality, or establish a proprietary right.
 
Mojo should be shared by all. Now, here is to hoping that the Jets have their mojo working for their Thursday Night Matchup against the Broncos tonight! To sponsor this sentiment here are some more performers showing their mojo off.
 
   – I think I was at this show.
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