How the Doors Discovered the Meaning of ‘Mr. Mojo Risin’
The Doors drummer John Densmore recalled that the phrase “Mr. Mojo Risin” helped inspire the pace and energy of the classic song “L.A. Woman” — even before singer Jim Morrison told his bandmates what it meant.
The 1971 song is known for dropping back from its original tempo to something much slower, before speeding up with the suggestion of a sexual climax. The idea occurred to Densmore as soon as Morrison began singing the mysterious line, as he told Uncle Joe Benson on the Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show.
“We slowed it down – ’Cops in cars, the topless bars / Never saw a woman so alone’ – so then we take it down,” the drummer explained. “And then he starts repeating ‘Mr. Mojo Risin’,’ and I thought, ‘Oh, well, we’re rising here. Let’s speed this up, you know, like one would when one gets excited.’ I had to, several minutes later, in my mind, increase the tempo back and get it hopefully to the original tempo that’s in the first couple of verses. If you compare the two, it’s a little faster, but it’s the same area.”
Densmore noted that when they finished the song, Morrison said, "Check this out! He writes down ‘Mr. Mojo Risin’… and then he takes the letters and starts making arrows and writing the letters all twisted around, and it spells ‘Jim Morrison.’ Oh, my God, this guy’s a genius!”
Asked if Morrison knew about the anagram before they recorded the song, Densmore replied, “He did – but he didn’t tell us!”
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