Muddy Waters (McKinley Morganfield) was the original exponent of the Chicago school of electrified blues. Today is the anniversary of his birth; he died in April 1983. Perhaps most memorably, Muddy introduced the concept of “mojo” to popular consciousness in “Got My Mojo Working” (his trademark song, recorded several times). The definitive version of the song is the live version on the reissued “Fathers and Sons” recording that Muddy cut with Paul Butterfield, Michael Bloomfield, and Otis Spann in 1969.
On “Fathers and Sons” the song comes in two parts, “Got My Mojo Working Part One” and “Got My Mojo Working Part Two,” recorded live in Chicago at the Super Cosmic Joyscout Jamboree. Muddy and the gang take it to the limit on that one, a glorious moment in the history of Western civilization. The song concludes “Fathers and Sons,” now reissued in slightly expanded form on compact disc. The cover art of the “Fathers and Sons” album (above) pays witty tribute to Muddy’s influence.
Muddy was a charismatic performer. You can see his magnetism on display here in his performance of “Mannish Boy” in “The Last Waltz,” recorded with the Band and Paul Butterfield on Thanksgiving 1976, or any of the performances of “Mojo” that are available on YouTube. There’s a story behind “Mannish Boy” as there is behind “Mojo,” well told by Bill Dahl in the entry on Muddy over at the Allmusic site. The video below captures “Mojo” with particularly good sound and with George “Harmonica” Smith wailing away on harp. As Robbie Robertson exclaimed in “The Last Waltz,” “Wasn’t that a man!”
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