Got My Mojo Working

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"Got My Mo-Jo Working"
Single by Ann Cole and the Suburbans
B-side "I've Got a Little Boy"
Released April 1957 (1957-04)
Format 7" 45 rpm record
Recorded 1956
Genre Blues
Length 2:37
Label Baton 237
Writer(s) Preston Foster
"Got My Mojo Working"
Single by Muddy Waters
Format Single
Recorded December 1, 1956
Genre Blues
Label Chess Records
Writer(s) Disputed, see text

"Got My Mojo Working" is a 1956 song written by Preston Foster and first recorded by Ann Cole, but popularized by Muddy Waters in 1957. Waters' rendition of the song was featured on the Rolling Stone magazine's list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time at #359[1] and was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2000. It was also included in the list of Songs of the Century, by the Recording Industry of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Covers[edit]

The song has been covered by many artists, including Louis Jordan (1956), Roy Head and the Traits (1962), Conway Twitty (1964), Alexis Korner (1964), Manfred Mann (1964), The Zombies (1964), Jimmy Smith (1965), Graham Bond (1965), Tages (1965), The Paul Butterfield Blues Band (1965), The Shadows of Knight (1966) Art Blakey (1966), Carla Thomas (1967), The Electric Prunes (1967), Peps Persson & Blues Quality (1968, later (1997) released in Swedish as Min trollmoj funkar), Canned Heat (1969), Elvis Presley (1970), Rory Gallagher (1971), J. J. Cale (1972), Melanie Safka (1975), B. B. King (1977), Buddy Guy (1977), JB Hutto (1979), The Stampeders (1979),[2] Otis Rush (1986), Dr. Feelgood (Down at the doctors - 1994), Asylum Street Spankers (2004), Etta James (2004 - Blues to the Bone), Eric Clapton (2011), Johnny Winter (2011) and Widespread Panic (2013).

Litigation[edit]

This song has been the subject of copyright litigation. McKinley Morganfield, a.k.a. Muddy Waters, heard Ann Cole perform it while she was on tour with him in 1956. He modified the words, and attempted to copyright his own version. Dare Music, Inc., holder of the Preston Foster copyright, and Arc Music Group, holder of the Morganfield copyright, settled out of court, with Arc deferring to Dare's copyright. In Strachborneo v. Arc Music 357 F. Supp 1393 (S.D. N.Y. 1973), Ruth Stratchborneo sued co-defendants Arc Music, Dare Music, McKinley Morganfield (Muddy Waters) and Preston Foster, claiming that all had infringed on her copyright in the song "Mojo Workout". In disagreement with Plaintiff Stratchborneo's claim, the ruling held that the term "Mojo" was essentially in the public domain and that the various uses of it in recordings by Ann Cole, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Smith and Bill Cosby did not, therefore, constitute infringement.

"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.".[3]

Importantly, the ruling also unequivocably established the copyright of Preston Foster and Dare Music, Inc. in the song “Got My Mojo Working”.

“I find that defendant Dare is the owner of a valid copyright originally issued to Foster on October 29, 1956 (No. EU 462214) and duly assigned to Dare, covering the words and music of "GOT MY MOJO WORKING," as set forth in a 1956 lead sheet filed in the Copyright Office and on the demonstration record, Ex. 6, and that such work is an original musical composition of words and music made by Preston Foster, which does not infringe any rights of plaintiff.” [3]

A discussion of the history of the song can be found on pages 173 - 175 in "The Judge Who Hated Red Nail Polish & Other Crazy But True Stories of Law & Lawyers". [4]

Lyric comparison in copyright case

Foster lyrics excerpt[edit]

Got my Mojo working but it just won't work on you
Got my Mojo working but it just won't work on you
I want to love you so that I don't know what to do
I got my black cat bones all pure and dry
I got my 4 leaf clover all hanging high
I got my Mojo working but it just won't work on you
I want to love you so 'til I don't know what to do
<repeat format, with varied spells: hoodoo ashes,
black snake boots, red hot tips, etc. >[3]

Excerpt from Waters lyrics[edit]

Got my mojo working but it just won't work on you
Got my mojo working but it just won't work on you
I want to love you so bad I don't know what to do
Going down to Louisiana to get me a mojo hand
Going down to Louisiana to get me a mojo hand
I'm going to have all you women, getcha under my command
Got my mojo working, ...[3]

Excerpt from Stratchborneo lyrics[edit]

I got my mojo working
Well my mojo working
Well my mojo working
Well my mojo working
My mojo working but it just won't work on you.
You grab your little girl and spin her around
You grab both hands and holler out loud
You turn and turn till you're back to back
You move your feet and you don't look back.
You do the mojo workout
Well the mojo workout
You do the mojo workout
<dance step instructions>
I got my mojo working
Well my mojo working
My mojo working.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Posted Dec 09, 2004 12:00 AM (2004-12-09). "Got My Mojo Working: Muddy Waters". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2009-07-18. 
  2. ^ RPM
  3. ^ a b c d e "Strachborneo v. Arc Music". USC Gould School of Law. 2012. Retrieved 2014-02-28. 
  4. ^ Bray, Ilona; Stim, Richard; Nolo, the editors of (2010). "How Copyright Law Found Its Mojo". The judge who hated red nail polish : & other crazy but true stories of law & lawyers (1st ed. ed.). Berkeley, Calif.: Nolo. pp. 173–175. ISBN 9781413311914. 

External links[edit]