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Old Times There Are Not Forgotten

News stories and historical documents relating to the practice of conjure. Brought to you by our sister-site, Southern-Spirits.com
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Old Times There Are Not Forgotten

Unread post by catherineyronwode » Tue Jan 13, 2004 1:57 pm

Lest the minor differences of opinion about Literary versus down home
hoodoo derail us, i present herewith a blast from the past -- a token
of where society HAS been and is not, thank God, going back again.

This is an extract of the liner notes from a very influential album of
blues music that came out in the early 1960s. The author, Paul Oliver,
was white, British, and well-intentioned, but ... (!)

To understand what follows in context, you may need to be aware that
Oliver is referring throughout to musicians such as Tallahassee Tight
Barefoot Bill who recorded under performance names.

My thanks to Alan Balfour of the pre-war-blues list (also at Yahoo --
please join if interested!) for the transcription to electronic form:

-----
extract from liner notes to
Blues Fell This Morning
RARE RECORDINGS OF SOUTHERN BLUES SINGERS
Phillips BBL 7369
-----

Like simple people the world over, Southern folk Negroes often
attribute the deterioration or improvement of their fortunes to
superstitious beliefs, the power of Voodoo, or in the case of
Tallahassee Tight from Florida, to the women "who put a medicine on
you". Praying that their luck may change they invent private rituals,
consult the "root doctors" and their "numbers books" before "playing
policy". Pinning their hopes on the turn of a card they gamble in games
of Florida Flip, Coon-can or Georgia Skin. The latter, a fast favourite
of Negro "pikers" is recaptured by the burly, one legged beggar from
Atlanta, Peg Leg Howell, who sings the traditional refrain of "You
better let the deal go down". In the Fall, when the crops have been
gathered and the yard-and-field Negroes have money in their pockets to
burn and the time to lose it, they are an easy prey to the professional
gamblers who appear at the annual "Skin-ball". This is the time of year
when unattached Negroes visit the larger Southern towns to spend their
money in brief, reckless sprees on Mobile's Davis Street, Jackson's
Farish Street, or Dallas' Elm Street where in Texas Bill Day's words
the "women don't mean you no good".

In the teeming ghettoes of Catfish Row in Vicksburg, Ram-Cat Alley in
Greenwood or Nashville's infamous Bush Bottom crime is rife and largely
unchecked. The hopeless congestion, the rotting buildings, vegetable
matter and human life breed violence and corruption, criminals operate
undetected and the promiscuous living is incitement to sudden affrays
and brutal slayings. Hardened criminals in numbers there are without
question, but equally undeniable is the fact that many a "bad" Negro is
the victim of his environment, slum-shocked and destitute. Hard
measures of law enforcement have often been made in desperate attempts
to curb crime which do not touch root causes, and many a Negro finds
himself in jail almost unwittingly. Playing his original, personal
blues on a battered guitar, an Alabama Negro, Barefoot Bill, gives a
hint of one such man's predicament as he sits in jail pathetically
nursing his "Black Cat's Bone".

--Paul Oliver

-----End Extract of Liner Notes-----

Well, that takes me back a log ways. It was liner notes like these that
i read when young that gave me to understand that "that stuff" or
"medicine" was something magical, as was the "black cat's bone," which
was thought to grant invisibility to thieves. So although Paul Oliver
grates on me now, and seems patronizing and distant, i still have to
thank him for having had a good ear for lyrics and for taking the time
to explain them to white listeners during the early 1960s. Even though
he himself frowned upon the subject matter of conjure and made the
typical white outsider's mistake of calling it "Voodoo," he did bring
it into focus, and helped to spread knowledge of it into his own
British cultural world.

cat yronwode

fausto

SCOTS, "Mojo Box"

Unread post by fausto » Fri May 22, 2009 4:53 am

In 2004, Southern Culture on the Skids, a rockabilly/surf band famous for celebrating redneck stereotypes, released a song called "Mojo Box". In the song, the narrator has bought a spell kit (the mojo box of the title) which he intends to use to win back a lost love. Sold to him by a Hoodoo man, the kit includes a mojo hand, as well as a mojo cologne, which he sprays over "everything that he owns" (possibly a reference to Hoyt's Cologne or a confusion between cologne and oil). The only versions of this I've heard were recorded live, and I cant make out all the lyrics (or find them anywhere online).

Here's a link to a video of the song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05VtsGVJ ... PL&index=6

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Re: SCOTS, "Mojo Box"

Unread post by catherineyronwode » Fri May 22, 2009 1:14 pm

Thanks for the link. That's a nice, hard-driving song. Sraying or sprinkling cologne on a mojo -- and "everything else" -- is quite common in hoodoo, and pobably does not indicate "confusion between cologne and oil." Lots of folks prefer colognes, especially Hoyt's Coligne, to oils when i comes to feeding mojo hands and dressing their stuff.
catherine yronwode

Astariell

Re: SCOTS, "Mojo Box"

Unread post by Astariell » Wed May 27, 2009 12:17 pm

Hi,

I tried also to find the lyrics and I think we have to wait until the lyrics people come around to publishing the lyrics......I tried through various sources and you are going to have to dig deeper then the internet....I recommend some of the blues sites and asking the blues people.......

If I come across them, will inform you....I love and play the blues myself....Wrote a great song, "Mojo Man'....lot of history with the Gullah....about a musician who wears blue glasses...etc....

Great song and great band....keep trying and let me know if you get them....Good Luck!!! :)

Trapper

First song dealing with supernatural topics or hoodoo

Unread post by Trapper » Mon Nov 16, 2009 6:20 am

Hi there,

I'm new in here, so first I would like to introduce myself:

I am a journalist from Germany and acutally I am writing a book about horror in rock music history. Following the trace back to Screaming Jay Hawkins I ended up this homepage, which is really overwhelming. :o
>
>I hope you have the time to help me out with some questions? I would like to know: Which one is the oldest song you know, containing lets call it "supernatural" topics? :?: :?: :?:

I want to go back to where it all started. It's not easy to find and I would like to rely on some experts.
>
>I'd be very glad if you could help me. And of course I'd be proud to mention you in my credits.

Regards
Trapper

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Re: First song dealing with supernatural topics or hoodoo

Unread post by Mama Micki » Mon Nov 16, 2009 8:46 am

How about "Black Magic" by Frank Sinatra?
Gracias, Jesus Malverde!
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Trapper

Re: First song dealing with supernatural topics or hoodoo

Unread post by Trapper » Mon Nov 16, 2009 11:08 am

Well, according to the lucky mojo blues lyrics & hoodoo site it could be "Lady Luck Blues" by Bessie Smith which is from 1923.

But I am not sure about that. I'm looking for the origins and I suppose 'em to be old songs the cotton workers used to sing. Songs about their religion and hoodoo practices.

btw: please excuse my English. It used to better back in the days I went to school

Trapper

Re: First song dealing with supernatural topics or hoodoo

Unread post by Trapper » Mon Nov 16, 2009 11:56 am

Okay, searching this site and the internet "Cotton-Eyed Joe" seems to be one of the oldest songs that can be found. That old, that no one knows it's origin. But it seems to be pre-Civil War.

But as it hasn't been recorded until 1925 I have to go on. Looking for the first song to be recorded...

Lulu

Muddy Waters Got my Mojo working song

Unread post by Lulu » Fri Dec 04, 2009 7:46 am

Hello I am sure most of you have heard this song, the first time I heard this song was by Kitty, Daisy and Lewis, which i later found out that Muddy sang the original version. However I like Kitty daisy and Lewis version better ;). Can someone give me the 411 on this song? i just love this song. thanks.

"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 wanna love you so bad till I don't know what to do

Got my mojo working
Got my mojo working
Got my mojo working
Got my mojo working
Got my mojo working
but it just won't work on you

I'm going down to Louisiana to get me a mojo hand
I'm going down to Louisiana to get me a mojo hand
I'm gonna have all you women right here at my command

Got my mojo working
Got my mojo working
Got my mojo working
Got my mojo working
Got my mojo working
but it just won't work on you

I got a gypsy woman giving me advice
I got a gypsy woman giving me advice
She got some red hot tips
I'm keepin' them on ice.

Got my mojo working
Got my mojo working
Got my mojo working
Got my mojo working
Got my mojo working
but it just won't work on you

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Mississippi Sheiks song not in archives?

Unread post by Joseph Magnuson » Sat May 15, 2010 6:34 pm

I was just wondering if "Baby Keeps Stealin' Lovin' On Me' by the Mississippi
Sheiks was left off of the LM/Hoodoo/Blues archives? It is one of my favorite
recent finds (reissue, of course) and I wanted to ask about it...

"...it will be all over when I get my mojo hand" is the greatest line of the
entire song, so I thought I'd ask you...

Hope this finds you well and in good company!

-Joseph
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Re: Mississippi Sheiks song not in archives?

Unread post by catherineyronwode » Sat May 15, 2010 6:36 pm

I don't have a transcription of this one and would LOVE to have it.
catherine yronwode

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Re: Mississippi Sheiks song not in archives?

Unread post by Joseph Magnuson » Sat May 15, 2010 6:42 pm

I would love to transcribe it! I just bought the new Monk Records reissue of the MS and was hoping it would be included...it was not... However I do have a cd/digital file of this song and it is certainly clear enough that I could crack it... I will be at the shop tomorrow though and then my wife and I are staying in Point Reyes Seashore Lodge that night for my birthday. I could have it transcribed and posted here by Tuesday though (day after my birthday)...

It really is a wonderful song and great representation of aspects of hoodoo...

Also, it is a song done in the thirties and in the country/fiddle/almost 'hillbilly' type blues, so I thought that's why it may have been left off the archive list...


-Joseph
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Re: Mississippi Sheiks song not in archives?

Unread post by Joseph Magnuson » Mon May 17, 2010 10:55 pm

It was pretty great catching you for a few minutes yesterday! Thanks for the great lodestone... i am working on the transcription as I type and should have it out to you with the MP3 in a day or two tops!

-joseph
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Re: Mississippi Sheiks song not in archives?

Unread post by Joseph Magnuson » Tue May 18, 2010 8:37 pm

Emailing the info now...

I spent hours trying to decipher all the words...then turned to a great, great resource for the full fleshed-out lyrics...

I tried!

-joseph
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MydniteSon

Re: Muddy Waters Got my Mojo working song

Unread post by MydniteSon » Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:10 pm

The song was actually written by Preston Foster in 1956 and recorded by Anne Cole.

Muddy Waters heard the song and basically tried to copyright his own version, releasing it in 1957. This lead to years of litigation between the respective companies that own the rights to those songs.

Here, I'll post some of Foster's original lyrics as sung by Ann Cole:

"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 clovers all hanging high
I got my Mojo working but it just won't work on you
I want to love you so till I don't know what to do

I got my voodoo ashes all around you bed
I got my black snake roots underneath your head
I got my Mojo working but it just won't work on you
I want to love you so till I don't know what to do

Solo

I got a gypsy woman giving me advice
I got some real hot tricks, keeping her on ice
I got my Mojo working but it just won't work on you
I want to love you so till I don't know what to do

I got my rabbit foot I know it's working right
I got a strand of hair I keep day and night
I got my Mojo working but it just won't work on you
I want to love you so till I don't know what to do

I got my Mojo working but it just won't work on you
I want to love you so till I don't know what to do

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Re: Muddy Waters Got my Mojo working song

Unread post by Willowspell » Wed Oct 06, 2010 6:42 pm

The original is SOO much better. :) Thanks for sharing.
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Re: Muddy Waters Got my Mojo working song

Unread post by catherineyronwode » Thu Oct 07, 2010 8:02 am

Ann Cole released the song. A short time later, Muddy Waters and Ann Cole were on a tour together and he heard her singing it on stage every night; he got off the tour and recorded his version from memory.

He forgot to change the female-oriented lyrics (written by Foster for Cole) that speak of a female who is keeping a female love-rival away ("keeping her on ice"). In later recordings, i believe someone pointed that strange gender-error out to him and he may have changed it. He recorded it several times.
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Elveta

Re: Muddy Waters Got my Mojo working song

Unread post by Elveta » Sat Nov 20, 2010 9:46 am

catherineyronwode wrote:Ann Cole released the song. A short time later, Muddy Waters and Ann Cole were on a tour together and he heard her singing it on stage every night; he got off the tour and recorded his version from memory. .."
Here he is! ("You Tube" is your friend.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhTCYqJsfqs

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'Uncensored History of the Blues' Podcast

Unread post by Ellis Crowfoot » Fri Dec 10, 2010 11:11 pm

In case anyone with an interest in pre-War blues has not yet discovered this, I thought I would share it here. The 'Uncensored History of the Blues' podcast, sponsored by the Delta Blues Museum:

http://uncensoredhistoryoftheblues.purplebeech.com/

At this point they have 50 stored podcasts, featuring some truly fantastic (in some cases rare) recordings, and accurately transcribed lyrics for nearly every song. A lovely resource. Podcast #41 is dedicated to Hoodoo themes and is entitled, 'Hoodoo Women':

http://uncensoredhistoryoftheblues.purp ... women.html

(Cat is referenced at the bottom of the above episode, along with a link to HITAP.)
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Re: 'Uncensored History of the Blues' Podcast

Unread post by catherineyronwode » Sat Dec 11, 2010 10:35 pm

Thanks.
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Re: 'Uncensored History of the Blues' Podcast

Unread post by Joseph Magnuson » Mon Dec 20, 2010 10:15 pm

This is one of my absolutely favorite podcasts...amazing songs and a lot of rarities mixed in. Great theme shows...and always informative. Highly recommended!!! It's nice to see them mentioned here.

-Joseph
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Re: 'Uncensored History of the Blues' Podcast

Unread post by Miss Tammie Lee » Tue Dec 21, 2010 8:25 pm

Thanks owlsfoot!
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Song with the title Hoodoo

Unread post by ariela » Thu Mar 03, 2011 3:33 pm

there is a song with the title Hoodoo by the British band Muse. The lyrics don't seem to fit with the subject, though.

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Re: Hoodoo song

Unread post by MissMichaele » Mon Mar 14, 2011 8:30 am

That's probably because outside the Southern U.S., people have only hazy notions of what hoodoo is.

But Miss Cat got into hoodoo via the BLUES, and she has been collecting lyrics (and records) for decades. Her page on it is here:
Knowledgeable folks occasionally find references to hoodoo tricks in other songs, such as Cab Calloway's "Geechee Joe" or Jimi Hendrix's "Heard My Train A-Comin'".

Hope this helps,

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'Black Cat Bone' Song by Laika

Unread post by [Ophelia] » Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:46 pm

Has anyone heard this song? Think it has Hoodoo references. Very cool song! :-D
Thank you Isis for your constant guidance and sage advice. Thank you Nancy for being my guardian angel.

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Re: 'Black Cat Bone' Song by Laika

Unread post by catherineyronwode » Mon Mar 14, 2011 2:03 pm

I have not heard of Laika, but the title has certainly been used before, so it may be a copy of the hugely popular "Black Cat Bone" by Lightnin' Hopkins:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ge2TSLmsk2k
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Re: 'Black Cat Bone' Song by Laika

Unread post by [Ophelia] » Mon Mar 14, 2011 2:23 pm

Wow what a song cat! I haven't heard that one before. There is always this hugely subtle yet powerful emotive element to those old songs! I can see why you fell in love with the genre (On a sidenote to this - I bet your record collection is something to behold! - Slightly jealous ;-)
The Laika version is definitely their own as I can't find any reference to this being a cover. The lyrics are very dark and the sound reminds me of The Smiths. :-)
I think I might begin a quest into listening to all the old Blues songs that mention Hoodoo (as I have only listened to a few).


(could I apologise here for getting off topic re: drying herbs - I have the utmost respect for you, your work and the forum so I will try to not do this again, sorry).
Thank you Isis for your constant guidance and sage advice. Thank you Nancy for being my guardian angel.

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Re: 'Uncensored History of the Blues' Podcast

Unread post by Zarzamora » Sat Apr 02, 2011 8:56 am

I listen to this podcast - it's really interesting

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Music Song Lyrics Musician Makes Mention of Hoodoo

Unread post by Dr Od » Mon Sep 05, 2011 7:57 pm

Yeah, it's ignorant, hollywood, and pulp...but I can't help but like it anyway... >shrugs<

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qe7_Oh7fDQA

Rock.

Apologies if it's already been posted here some-a-wheres...

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Re: Yet another contemporary song that mentions the word Hoodoo

Unread post by catherineyronwode » Mon Sep 05, 2011 8:42 pm

What do you like about it?

White people under the impression that Black folk magic is like a porn video?

Or am i missing something?

May i suggest these youtube videos as an alternative?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qXjk7qfkUs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifk9paFSyuk

The second one contains the classic line, "I put my trust in Goofer Dust."
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Re: Yet another contemporary song that mentions the word Hoodoo

Unread post by Dr Od » Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:44 pm

Aw....c'mon Lady Yronwode, I know you boss here, ain't got nothing but the highest respect for you...I'm fixin to do your Rootwork course, soon as I rustle up the bread to continue purchasing the necessary prerequisites I've already started to accrue...

Hoodoo Woman appeals to me in the same kitchy way as do the writings of Robert E Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs...yeah, they're naive, but they're catchy, and about subjects I love...to be honest, it's without fail that if i even MENTION the word 'Hoodoo' to the under-30 black folk I interact with daily, they attempt to correct me with the word 'Voodoo' and assume it's all 'badguy' stuff...so perhaps it's regional, or perhaps it's an ugly Zeitgeist, but the "'porn-video-hoodoo' black-folk magic" paradigm seems to have crossed racial lines round here, unfortunately... :(

But regardless, that second video you recommended was bang-up! And aside from the music, some of that soft-shoe was jaw-dropping...THOROUGHLY enjoyable!

Now, I know you've see it before, but here's my personal favorite version of "got my Mojo working...":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sP0crYPCHV0

Though every time I've googled lyrics for the song, it seems to be writ: "Black snake Boots underneath your head..."

Black snake boots? :?

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Re: Yet another contemporary song that mentions the word Hoodoo

Unread post by catherineyronwode » Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:07 pm

"Black Snake Boots" -- that's silly.

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And as far as Black people forgetting their own culture -- well, White folks do quite the same. And so do Asians and Latinos and Inuits and Polynesians. It's called "living in the Mall" if you think it's cool and "living in the Matrix" if you think it sucks.
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Re: Yet another contemporary song that mentions the word Hoodoo

Unread post by Dr Od » Tue Sep 20, 2011 10:16 pm

True story.

And I figured it was Black Snake Roots...but figured I'd mention it because I was hoping for your validation of my assumption.
Thanks! :)

whistler

New Orleans Hoodoo Bluesman..

Unread post by whistler » Sun Nov 27, 2011 8:20 pm

The New Orleans Hoodoo bluesman, Coco Robicheaux, has passed away
Much sadness here..

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Re: New Orleans Hoodoo Bluesman..

Unread post by Devi Spring » Mon Nov 28, 2011 8:53 am

I was fortunate enough to get to meet him and hear him play earlier this month. His music was really stirring and was a joy to listen to. I feel blessed that I was able to experience his energy and work before he passed from this world.

RIP, Coco.
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whistler

Re: New Orleans Hoodoo Bluesman..

Unread post by whistler » Thu Dec 01, 2011 7:06 pm

Agreed. Like a good number of New Orleans artists, recorded music didn't do him justice. You had to experience him in person to fully appreciate his work.

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Re: New Orleans Hoodoo Bluesman..

Unread post by Devi Spring » Thu Dec 01, 2011 7:26 pm

I heard today that Mamma Starr is going to NOLA to participate in the Second Line for Coco. I wish them a safe journey in their pilgrimage to honor his memory.
Devi Spring: Reader & Rootworker - HRCC Graduate.

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Re: New Orleans Hoodoo Bluesman..

Unread post by Mojomarie » Fri Dec 23, 2011 2:25 pm

I KNEW COCO ROBICHEAUX!!! He's PASSED?? I worked at the House of Blues in New Orleans when he used to play on the weekends. Ran into him again in Denver, Colorado, where he and his family had a place!

Can't believe he's gone. Good person and GREAT Musician!!

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Re: Music Song Lyrics Musician Makes Mention of Hoodoo

Unread post by HicksKicks » Sun Feb 22, 2015 6:30 pm

agreed to Black Magic by Frank Sinatra..

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Re: Music Song Lyrics Musician Makes Mention of Hoodoo

Unread post by catherineyronwode » Sun Feb 22, 2015 6:37 pm

I can hardly imagine that Frank Sinatra was singing about African Aerican folk magic.
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Re: Music Song Lyrics Musician Makes Mention of Hoodoo

Unread post by DoctorG » Wed Mar 11, 2015 11:50 am

catherineyronwode wrote:I can hardly imagine that Frank Sinatra was singing about African Aerican folk magic.
I'm sure Old Blue Eyes didn't KNOW he was singing about African American folk magic, but I'm not so sure that he wasn't.

Wikipedia informs me that the song "That Old Black Magic" was composed in 1942, with lyrics by Johnny Mercer. Mercer, as you may know, was born and raised in Savannah, Georgia. His family home was a key element in the book (and movie) "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil."

Wikipedia, again, says that when Johnny was a child his mother "took him to see minstrel and vaudeville shows where he heard 'coon songs' and ragtime.

So the lyrics to "That Old Black Magic" could have been influenced by hoodoo. I'm not saying that they were, but you can't rule it out.

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peepy_pete
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Re: Music Song Lyrics Musician Makes Mention of Hoodoo

Unread post by peepy_pete » Thu Aug 27, 2015 2:52 am

I'm with Doctor G. Frank had no idea what he was warbling on about :D

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catherineyronwode
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Re: Music Song Lyrics Musician Makes Mention of Hoodoo

Unread post by catherineyronwode » Sat Feb 06, 2016 1:27 am

Here's a rather grim and dark interpretation of hoodoo as a kind of African-mask play with Icelandic galdrabok runes:

BIG HOODOO - Darkside - OFFICIAL VIDEO - Psychopathic Records

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSN_fl_YubM

It's quite odd.
catherine yronwode

Herb-Magic.com
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