Here is my cover of “Hoochie Coochie Man”. This tune was written by the preeminent Godfather of the Blues, Muddy Waters.
The lyrics are heavily laced with references to the Hoodoo conjure tradition of the American South. One commonly misunderstood line is:
I got the John the Conqueror Root
I’m gonna mess with you
To mess with someone was to put roots on them, meaning to cast spells on that person.
The root known as John the Conqueror (Ipomoea jalapa) is widely regarded as one of the most powerful roots or Plant Spirits; if not the most powerful.
The root, all by itself, was potent and to possess it was to hold power to exert one’s will. However, to possess a mojo hand (aka, mojo bag), made and empowered by a knowledgeable rootworker, was an awe-inspiring thing.
It was not a simple matter to travel to Louisiana and get a mojo, especially for a Black person, who had less opportunities and greater obstacles. If you wanted the magick, the only way to get it was to find a skilled doctor.
This was a man or woman who knew how to coerce the Spirits to work on their behalf. First, you had to find a rootworker and then you had to convince them to make a hand for you and pay them whatever their fee was, no questions asked.
Any rituals they prescribed you or tasks assigned must be followed scrupulously. But once you had a mojo hand, especially one containing John the Conqueror, it meant that you were a force to be reckoned with.
I’m doing all the guitar, bass and vocal parts on this track. I added Slight Return to the title as a little tip of the hat to another major influence of mine, the immortal Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix was well aware of the lore mentioned here and his song “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” references similar themes.
During the last verse, you’ll see a quote, placed over a pic of Muddy Waters. It comes from the movie Crossroads, starring Ralph Machio; not to be confused with the movie Crossroads, starring Britney Spears.
It’s the story of a young, classical guitarist who dreams of nothing but playing the Mississippi Delta Blues. He’s a classical music major at The Juilliard School of Music but is mostly obsessed with Robert Johnson, arguably the greatest blues man ever.
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The images in this video are
1) historic pictures of famous, Hoodoo rootworkers and practitioners of Voodoo (or Voudon, Voodou, etc) and a few that just look the part.
2) pictures of myself playing guitar
3) personal photos and video of workings I’ve done
4) random, “bluesy” stuff that gives the appropriate, Mississippi Blues vibe or the Hoodoo/Voodoo, sorcery vibe
5) images from The Key of Solomon, a European magickal grimoire (which became highly important in Hoodoo.
6) stock footage, provided by:
Thanks to the following, for some of the images in the video.