BLUES LYRICS and HOODOO

This database of blues lyrics is divided into two parts:

  • "primary" songs are those which are used on "Hoodoo in Theory and Practice" web pages and which also have their own transcription pages;

  • "secondary" songs are those which only appear on transcription pages with links to relevant "Hoodoo in Theory and Practice" web pages.

    USING BLUES LYRICS TO DOCUMENT CONJURE

    Blues fans who listen closely to song lyrics often wonder what a "mojo" is or why one would carry a "John da Conqueroo." Most people know these terms have something to do with African American folk magic, and they may even have run across interviews or songs in which a musician uses the word "hoodoo," but many incorrectly assume that the terms come from the Haitian religion known as Voodoo or Vodoun.

    My online book about 20th century African-American folk-magic, Hoodoo in Theory and Practice, will conveniently answer most questions that blues fans have about these lyrics, but i have created this sub-site on "Blues Lyrics and Hoodoo" because in gathering information on hoodoo, i have found that some of the clearest descriptions of magical materials and their methods of employment can be found in acoustic blues of the period between the two World Wars. In other words, blues lyrics themselves form a primary source of oral history and shed light on little known by-ways in folk custom. From the blues we can learn or receive independent confirmation about such things as how Goofer Dust was used in Memphis in the 1920s or the mechanisms of dream divination systems employed to obtain lucky numbers for lottery gambling. Thus these pages not only serve to "explain" obscure lyrics to fans, they use the blues to demonstrate rural folk-magic to contemporary practitioners.

    I use blues lyrics to exemplify specific magical concepts in "Hoodoo in Theory and Practice" because the 1920s - 30s was a period during which mainstream folklorists, scholars, and book publishers paid scant attention to cultural contributions by African-Americans. Hoodoo, a beautifully coherent system of practical folk magic, was for the most part dismissed as "superstition" and went unrecorded by scholars or occultists. But these same two decades coincidentally marked the time of the greatest development of recorded rural acoustic blues, and hoodoo was a prominent topic addressed in the lyrics to these songs,. Thus, blues lyrics of the 1920s - 30s often provide our best glimpse of how hoodoo was practiced in the decade preceeding Harry M. Hyatt's compilation of oral histories from root workers from 1936 - 1940.

    MAJOR HOODOO TOPICS DOCUMENTED WITH SONGS:


          "Hoodoo in Theory and Practice" pages that include primary lyrics as documentation.
    Here is a convenient quick-list of Lucky Mojo Pages that quote or allude to blues songs.

    Complete alphabetical list of songs by PERFORMER:


          This includes both primary and secondary songs.
    These songs are already transcribed on my hard-drive and/or online:
    
    [--] (field transcription, uncredited)
           Cotton-Eyed Joe (hoodoo) pre-1925
    Alexander, Texas
           Tell Me Woman Blues (mojo hand) 1928
    Arnold, (James) Kokomo
           Old Black Cat Blues (Jinx Blues) (black cat, jinx) 1935
    Arnold, (James) Kokomo
           Policy Wheel Blues (Jinx Blues) (policy dream books) 1935
    Batts, WIll
           Country Woman Blues (goofer dust) 1933
    Black Spider Dumpling (John D. Twitty)     
           Sold It to the Devil (crossroads ritual, spider dumpling 1937         
    Blake, Blind (Arthur)
           Policy Blues (policy dream books) 
    Blake, Blind (Arthur)
           Panther Squall Blues (jinx) 1928
    Bogan, Lucille (with Spoken parts by Papa Charlie Jackson)
           Jim Tampa Blues (jomo, black cat bone) 1927
    Brown, Bessie
           Hoodoo Blues (goofer, gris-gris, spider dumpling, black cat bone, shoes) 1924
    Brown, Gabriel
           Jinx Is On Me (jinx, gypsy, card reading, numbers) 1945
    Burleson, Hattie
           Superstitious Blues (mojo, fortune teller) 1928-1930
    Carter, Bo (Armentier Chatmon)
           The Ins and Outs of My Girl (jinx) 1936
    Carter, Big Lucky (Levester Carter) 
           Goofer Dust (goofer dust, dragon's blood, etc.) 1968
    Chatmon, Harry
           Hoo Doo Blues (hoodoo, palmistry, horseshoe) 1935       
    Chicago String Band
           Hoodoo Blues (hoodoo, gambling)
    Clayton, Dr. (Peter)
           Root Doctor Blues (double entendre on root work) 1946
    Cole, Ann
           Got My Mo-Jo Working (mojo)
    Cox, Ida
           Fogyism (black cat, etc.) 1928
    Cox, Ida
           Gypsy Glass Blues (Gypsy) 1927
    Cox, Ida
           Mojo Hand Blues (mojo) 1927
    Crudup, Arthur "Big Boy"
           Hoodoo Lady (hoodoo lady, hoodoo hand) 1947
    Diddley, Bo (Elias MacDaniel)
           Who Do You Love (many hoodoo beliefs) 1956
    Dixon, Willie 
           I Ain't Superstitious (bad luck omen list) 1962
    Dixon, Willie
           The Seventh Son (seventh son)
    Dixon, Willie
           Hootchie Cootchie Man  (lucky number seven)
    Gibson, Clifford        
           Don't Put That Thing On Me (conjure, hoodooing male nature) 1929
    Gillum, Jazz        
           The Blues What Am (bad luck omen list) 1947
    Gillum, Jazz
           Hand Reader Blues (fortune teller, herb tea, good luck pills) 1947
    Grant, Coot (Leola B. WIlson) and Wilson, Wesley (Kid Sox)
           Keep Your Hand Off Of My Mojo (mojo)
    Harlem Hamfats
           Hoodooin' Woman (hoodoo, fix, spread stuff) 1937
    Harris, Wynonie
           Conjured (foot-track magic, graveyard dirt, etc.) 1964
    Henry, Waymon "Sloppy"
           Jomo Man Blues (jomo, lodestone, john the conquer, goofer dust) 1928
    Hogg, Andrew "Smokey"
           I Bleed Through My Soul (black cat bone) c.1950
    Hopkins, Lightning
           Mojo Hand (mojo) 1960; also a later version, undated
    House, Son
           The Jinx Blues [No. 1 and No. 2] (jinx, Gypsy) 1942
    Hudson, Hattie 
           Doggone My Good Luck Soul (black cat, horseshoe, rabbit foot) 1927
    Hunter, Ivory Joe
           I Almost Lost My Mind (Gypsy) 1950
    Jackson, Papa Charlie
           Bad Luck Woman Blues (jinx, rat's [?] foot) 1924
    Jackson, Papa Charlie
           Salt Lake City Blues (jinx) 1924
    Jefferson, Blind Lemon
           Bad Luck Blues 1926
    Jefferson, Blind Lemon
           Broke and Hungry Blues (black cat bone) 19-- (INCOMPLETE)
    Jefferson, Blind Lemon
           Dry Southern Blues (implied menstrual blood in coffee) 1926
    Jefferson, Blind Lemon
           Low Down Mojo Blues (mojo)
    Jefferson, Blind Lemon
           Rambler Blues (jinx) 1927
    Johnson, Merline
           Black Gypsy Blues (Black Gypsy) 
    Johnson, Merline
           Sold It to the Devil (crossroads ritual) 1937   
    Johnson, Robert
           Come On In My Kitchen (mation sack)  
    Johnson, Robert
           Little Queen of Spades (mojo) 1937
    Johnson, Robert
           Hellhound on My Trail (Hot Foot Powder)  
    Johnson, Robert
           Stones In My Passway (foot-track magic)  1938
    Jones, Curtis
           Black Gipsy Blues (Black Gypsy) 1938
    Jones, Curtis
           Black Magic Blues  (hoodoo)
    Jordan, Charley (with Charlie Manson)
           I Couldn't Stay Here (jinx) 1936
    Jordan, Louis
           Somebody Done Hoodooed the Hoodoo Man  (hoodoo) 1939
    Lenoir, J. B.
           The Mojo, a.k.a. Mojo Boogie, Voodoo Boogie (jack ball) 1953, etc.
    Lewis, Furry
           Black Gypsy Blues (Black Gypsy) 1929
    Lightnin' Slim (Otis Hicks) 
           Hoo Doo Blues (hoodoo) 1957
    Lincoln, Charlie (Charlie Hicks, Laughing Charley)
           Mojoe Blues (mojo, hoodoo) 1927
    Lofton, Cripple Clarence
           I Don't Know (goofer dust) 1939 
    Lofton, Cripple Clarence
           Strut That Thing (goofer dust) 1935 
    Lonesome Sundown (Cornelius Green)
           I'm a Mojo Man (mojo) 1957
    Mabon, Willie
           I Don't Know (goofer dust) 1952 / 1953
    McGhee, Brownie
           Secret Mojo Blues (mojo, black cat bone) 1947
    McTell, Blind Willie
           Drive Away Blues (hot foot work, Lookout Mountain)
    McTell, Blind Willie
           Scary Day Blues (mojo)
    McTell, Blind Willie
           Talkin' to Myself (same verse as Scary Day Blues) 1930
    McTell, Blind Willie
           Ticket Agent Blues (same verse as Scary Day Blues) 1935
    Memphis Jug Band (with Will Shade)
           Aunt Caroline Dyer Blues (Aunt Caroline Dye, mojo) 1930
    Memphis Jug Band (with Will Shade)
           I Whipped My Woman With A Singletree (Black Gypsy) 1930       
    Memphis Jug Band (with Hattie Hart)   
           Spider's Nest Blues (spider, toby) 1930    
    Memphis Minnie (Lizzie Douglas)
           Hoodoo Lady (hoodoo woman) 1936
    Moore, Alice
           S.O.S. Blues (Distress Blues) (Black Gypsy, hoodoo) 1935 
    Buddy Moss 
           Jinks Man Blues (jinx) 
    Nelson, Romeo
           Gettin' Dirty Just Shakin' That Thing (goofer dust) 1929
    Otis, Johnny
           Castin' My Spell (mentions many hoodoo beliefs) 1950s
    Patton, Charlie
           Revenue Man Blues (jinx) 1934
    Patton, Charlie
           Screamin' and Hollerin' the Blues (jinx) 1929
    Rainey, Ma
           Black Cat Hoot Owl Blues  (bad luck beliefs) 1927
    Rainey, Ma
           Black Dust Blues  (goofer dust) 1928
    Rainey, Ma
           Louisiana Hoo Doo Blues (Algiers, hand, hoodoo, goofer) 1925
    Rainey, Ma
           Screech Owl Blues (bad luck beliefs) 1928
    Red, Tampa (Hudson Whittaker) and Georgia Tom Dorsey
           The Duck Yas-Yas-Yas (hoodoo women) 1929
    Ross, Dolly
           Hootin' Owl Blues (bad luck beliefs) 1927
    Shade, Will (Memphis Jug Band)
          I Whipped My Woman with a Singletree (gypsy) 1929
    Shines, Johnny
           Hoodoo Snake Doctor Blues (hoodoo doctor) 1970
    Short, J. D. (Jelly Jaw Short)
           Snake Doctor Blues (roots and herbs)
    Smith, Bessie       
           Lady Luck Blues (horseshoe, goofer dust) 1923
    Smith, Elizabeth 
           Gwine To Have Bad Luck Seven Years (bad luck women list)  
    Smith, J. T. "Funny Papa" / "Funny Paper"
           Seven Sisters Blues  (Seven Sisters of New Orleans)
    Spand, Charlie 
           Big Fat Mama Blues (goofer dust) 1930
    Spand, Charlie 
           Evil Woman Spell (hoodoo woman) 1931
    Spand, Charlie
           Hoodoo Woman Blues (hoodoo woman) 1940
    Spivey, Victoria
           Hoodoo Man Blues (hoodoo man) 1926
    Stokes, Frank
           Bedtime Blues (Goofer Dust) 1928
    Tampa Red (Hudson Woodbridge / Hudson Whittaker)
           Anna Lou Blues (mojo hand)
    Tampa Red (Hudson Woodbridge / Hudson Whittaker)
           When Bad Luck Is On You (jinx) 
    Temple, Johnnie
           Hoodoo Women (Aunt Caroline Dye, hoodoo) 1937  
    Torey, George
           Lonesome Man Blues (jinx) 1937
    Towel, Jim
           I've Been Hoodooed (hoodoo, rabbit foot, foot track) 1928  
    Twitty, John D. (Black Spider Dumpling)
               Sold It to the Devil (crossroads ritual) 1937
    Washboard Sam
           Hand Reader Blues (fortune teller, herb tea, good luck pills) 1938
    Washboard Sam
           Suspicious Blues (many bad-luck beliefs) 1938
    Waters, Muddy (McKinley Morganfield)
           Got My Mojo Working (mojo)
    Waters, Muddy (McKinley Morganfield)
           Louisiana Blues (mojo) 1950
    Weldon, Casey Bill (Casey Will Weldon) 
           Jinx Blues (jinx)
    Wells, Junior
           Hoodoo Man Blues (reworking of SBW's "Hoodoo Hoodoo") 1953 & 1965
    Wells, Junior
           Two-Headed Woman (two-headed woman, Seven Sisters of NOLA) 1957 
    Wheatstraw, Peetie
           Last Week Blues (jinx) 1934
    Wheatstraw, Peetie
           Cut Out Blues (policy, jinx) 1936 (INCOMPLETE)
    Wiley, Arnold
           Spider in Your Dumpling (spider dumpling, live things) 1920s
    Williams, Albert
           Hoodoo Man (Memphis Al) (hoodoo man) 1963     
    Williams, Big Joe
           Jinx Blues (jinx) 1963
    Williams, Robert Pete
           Black Cat Bone (black cat bone) 1961
    Wiliamson, John Lee "Sonny Boy" (I)
           Hoodoo Hoodoo (hoodoo, mojo) 1946
           

    How you can CONTRIBUTE LYRICS:


          I offer Rewards, Prizes and Credits to blues fans and scholars who help the project.
    I want to thank the many folks who have responded with kind
    encouragement to my research on the folklore of hoodoo in
    the blues. Those who have supplied transcriptions and
    discographical information belong in a category all their
    own and have my deepest gratitude. They are fully
    acknowledged by name on the respective pages bearing their
    contributions.
    

    "Hoodoo in Theory and Practice" is an ongoing book-in-progress, hundreds of web-pages long, and i want to expand the use of blues lyrics a great deal. For this purpose, i am asking blues fans to take a moment to transcribe song lyrics for me, if they can -- or to tape songs that i can transcribe, if that is easier for them.

    Before you submit songs, you ought to know three things:

    1) This is not merely a compilation of blues containing a keyword like hoodoo or mojo in the TITLE, because with a title-list, important songs like Robert Johnson's "Hell Hound on My Trail" and "Little Queen of Spades" would be excluded, even though the former mentions Hot Foot Powder and the latter mentions a mojo hand, both staples of hoodoo practice.

    2) I am not interested in non-relevant rock-blues and white-blues-band lyrics. I am using this material as a folkloric research tool, not as an index of how popular the idea of voodoo is with modern performers. In order to eliminate non-"authentic" references, i have eliminated any song by a performer whom i know to be "white" (Johnny Otis excepted) or whom i think has too much of a "modern urban rock band" style to supply basic folkloric information about hoodoo practices in the South. This elimination is based on what i know of the performers, not necessarily the songs. In other words: no Jimi Hendrix, John Mayall, Dr. John, Eric Clapton, or Aerosmith.

    3) Voodoo (a religion) is not the same as hoodoo (a system of folk magic). I am not very interested at this time in songs about voodoo. However, because in New Orleans and vicinity the terms have been used interchangeably (they are NOT used so in any other area of the South), i will not discard songs with "voodoo" in the title until i can hear them and eliminate them on the basis of their being of no value to my hoodoo project. So far, however, i have found only one song with "voodoo" in the title that was relevant to my research -- and it was merely a modern remake of an older song with a different title.

    I will send a free Lucky Mojo Curio. Co. rabbit foot charm with genuine New Orleans Style Van Van dressing oil to anyone who transcribes a complete song lyric or provides me a song tape to transcribe -- plus, you will be credited on that song's web page. If you have missing data to supply, hear a substantially different take on a transcription, or want to let me know about a song that has been overlooked in these pages, please contact me through the prewar blues e-list: pre-war-blues at yahoo groups.

    Thanks.

    Songs for which LYRICS ARE NEEDED:


          This is an incomplete list at best, but please check it out if you want to help.
    Songs for which i have titles and performers, but no lyrics or incomplete lyrics. 
    
    Baker, Mickey
           The Hoodoo Woman (hoodoo)
    Bradshaw, TIny
           The Gypsy (1954)
    Cephas & Wiggins
           Hoodoo Woman (hoodoo)
    Cockrell, Matt
           Gypsy Blues (1954)
    Dixon, Willie
           Hoo Doo Doctor (hoodoo)
    Fuller, Blind Boy 
           Mojo Hiding Woman (mojo)
    Fuller, Johnny
           Bad Luck Overtook Me (black cat) - Rhythm 1773 - San Francisco   1954
    Fulson, Lowell
           Black Cat Blues (black cat) - Downbeat 121 - San Francisco 1948
    Harris, Peppermint
           Black Cat Bone (black cat) - Modern 936 Los Angeles  1954
    Hooker, John Lee
           Black Cat Blues (black cat) - Specialty unissued LP 2125 Detroit 1948
    Hopkins, Lightnin'
           Black Cat (black cat) - RPM 388, Ken t LP 9 008 - Houston 1949/50
    Hopkins, Lightnin'
           Black Cat Bone (black cat) - Specialty unissued LP 2149 - Houston 1950/1
    Hopkins, Lightnin'
           Black Cat -(black cat)  Candid LP 8019 - New York City, 15 Nov 1960
    Jackson, Papa Charlie
           The Cats Got the Measles (???)
    Jefferson, Blind Lemon
           Broke and Hungry Blues (black cat bone) 19-- (INCOMPLETE)
    Johnson, Jimmy and Band with Hank Alexander (Vocal) 
           Black Cat Bone Pt. 1 & Pt. 2 - Magnum 724 - Los Angeles,  c. Aug 1964
    Johnson, Joshua
           Gypsy Blues (gypsy) (1947)
    Kitrell, Christine
           Black Cat Crossed My Trail (black cat) - Republic 7125  - Nashville 1954
    Lewis, Johnie
           My Little Girl (done stole a black cat bone) - Arhoolie CD 9007 - Chicago, 13 Aug 1970
    Lewis, Pete
           Goofy Dust Blues (goofer dust) (c. 1950s) 
    Lewis, Smiley
           Gypsy Woman (gypsy) - 1952
    Lightnin' Slim (Otis Hicks)
           Black Cat Blues (black cat) - Excello unissued on Flyright CD 47 - Crowley, La, c. 15 Sep 1959
    Memphis Slim
           I Wonder What's the Matter (black cat crossed my trail) - Cobra unissued on Flyright LP 577 - Chicago   c. 1957
    McDowell, Mississippi Fred
           Mojo Hand (mojo) - from 'MFMcDIL Volume One' (TRA 194)
    McGhee, Brownie & Sonny Terry
           Black Cat Bone (black cat bone)
    Model 'T' Slim
           Somebody Voodooed The Hoodoo Man (hoodoo) - 1966/67
    Muddy Waters 
           Gypsy Woman (gypsy) - 1947
    Mystery Man
           I Got A Hoodoo Woman (post-war) 
    Nixon, Elmore
           I Went To See A Gypsy (1950)
    Otis, Johnny
           Gypsy Blues (1952)
    Stone, Bobby
           Hoodoo Man, part 1 and part 2 (1960s)
    Tampa Red [Hudson Whittaker]
           Dark and Stormy Night [but is it about hoodoo?]
    Thomas, Tabby
           Hoodoo Party (1961) 
    Wayne, James
           Gypsy Blues (I'm A Real Gypsy Fellow) (c.1951) 
    Wheatstraw, Peetie
           Cut Out Blues (policy, jinx) 1936 (INCOMPLETE)
    Williams, Robert Pete
           Hoodoo Blues (1961) 
    Willis, Ralph
           Hoodoo Man (1951) 
    Wilson, Hop
           My Woman Has a Black Cat Bone - Ivory 127 - Houston, 27 Oct 1960
    
    Cat-Yronwodes-Hoodoo-Jukebox-and-The-Lucky-Mojo-Conjure-Toolbox-Two-CD-Set-at-Lucky-Mojo-Curio-Company Cat Yronwode's Hoodoo Jukebox - The Lucky Mojo Conjure Toolbox, 2-CD Set
    Based on material developed for her famous Blues Lyrics and Hoodoo web site, Cat Yronwode's Hoodoo Jukebox is a set of 26 songs by African American musicians of the early 20th century that mention and describe the many facets of hoodoo. These authentic acoustic blues sources provide insights into candle magic, hot footing, mojo hands, black cat bone spells, spiritual shop culture, jinxing, the role of professional readers and root workers in hoodoo, and how to divine from omens and signs. Performers include Arnold Wiley, Jim Towel, Sara Martin, Leola "Coot" Grant and "Kid" Wesley Wilson, Blind Willie McTell, Clifford Gibson, Margaret Whitmire, J. T. "Funny Papa" Smith, Bill "Jazz" Gillum, Johnnie Temple, Waymon "Sloppy" Henry, the Memphis Jug Band, and more.
    The Lucky Mojo Conjure Toolbox will provide you with an amazing arsenal of 89 digital images to incorporate into your personal magical spell-work. These images are sized just right to be printed out as candle labels, carried as talismans, personalized as petition-papers, or adapted for use in the construction of multi-media hypersigils. Enhance them with photo-editing software -- or collage them on the fly with simple scissors-and-glue techniques. Your capacity for innovation is limited only by your imagination! Custom Conjure Art compiled, designed, and edited by Dr. E., Deacon Millett,nagasiva yronwode, Professor Ames, Kast Excelsior, and catherine yronwode.
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  • A little bonus: Some non-hoodoo, non-blues lyrics transcriptions from my archive

    Hold On to What You Got by Joe Tex (1964)
    and Buying a Book by Joe Tex (1969)
    with a short musico-historical commentary by cat yronwode

    Rev. Edward W. Clayborn (The Guitar Evangelist): Your Enemy Cannot Harm You, But Watch Your Close Friend (1926)

    Rev. Dr. J. Gordon McPherson ("Black Billy Sunday"): Will You Spend Your Eternity in Hell? (1931)

    Rev. J. M. Gates: Hitler and Hell (1941)

  • Lucky Mojo On-Site SEARCH ENGINE:
          This will allow you to make any kind of keyword search including text lyrics.
    You can use ATOMZ.COM to SEARCH THIS SITE for a song title (like Ticket Agent Blues or Jim Tampa Blues), for the name of a performer (like Texas Alexander or Charley Patton), or for lyrics containing a keyword (like hoodoo or mojo or coffee). Because this site contains so many pages on a variety of non-blues topics, if you only want blues lyrics, you might want to add some limiting keywords to your search, words that will only turn up in the blues lyrics pages. I suggest the words "transcription" and "matrix."



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