Who Is Mr. Mojo Risin’?

Have you ever listened to the song L.A. Woman from The Doors and wondered who Mr. Mojo Risin’ is? The name is repeated several times throughout the chorus. 

This great classic rock song is a favorite of many fans of The Doors. But it may be surprising for those not in the know to learn Mr. Mojo Risin’s true meaning. 

Today we’re walking through the doors of perception to learn the truth behind this great oldie.

Let’s dive in!

Where Did Mr. Mojo Risin’ Come From?

Have you ever taken a word and tried to jumble the letters around to see if it spells something else? Well, that’s exactly what Jim Morrison of The Doors did with Mr. Mojo Risin’. It’s called an anagram. And if you know anything about this 60s icon, you know he enjoyed playing around with words and their meanings. 

The word “mojo” originates from the voodoo tradition and refers to magic powers. It’s also another word for magic spells, charms, or talismans. It later became connected with sexual energy as well.

In an LA Weekly interview, drummer John Densmore said this about the chorus:

“I knew that mojo was a sexual term from the blues, and that gave me the idea to go slow and dark with the tempo. It also gave me the idea to slowly speed it up like an orgasm.”

The chorus of L.A. Woman climbs to a fever pitch with Jim Morrison repeating the name over and over. Is he attempting to cast a sexual spell on the listener as he sings?

Mister mojo risin', mister mojo risin'
Got to keep on risin'
Mister mojo risin', mister mojo risin'
Mojo risin', gotta mojo risin'
Mister mojo risin', gotta keep on risin'

About Jim Morrison

James Douglas Morrison, the eccentric frontman of the 60s rock band The Doors, was born December 8, 1943, in Melbourne, Florida. The son of a Navy admiral, Morrison, moved frequently and lived in cities spread across the country. 

On a road trip with his family in 1947, Jim had an experience that impacted the rest of his life. While on a highway near Albuquerque, New Mexico, the family drove past an accident involving Native Americans. Jim noticed some victims dying along the side of the road. When speaking about this incident, Jim said he believed the soul of one of the dying men entered his body. 

Through his teen years, Jim became a fairly wild and bizarre individual. He attended freshman and part of sophomore year of high school in Alameda, California, before his family moved back to the east coast. He graduated from George Washington High School in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1961.

The Philosopher

Jim Morrison’s interest in poetry and philosophical literature began at an early age. He was inspired by writings from Friedrich Nietzsche, William Burroughs, Albert Camus, Jack Kerouac, and Allen Ginsberg. Morrison became known as much for his poetry as for his songwriting, which often seemed to overlap. 

Jim began attending college in Florida in 1962, but he moved to Los Angeles two years later to begin film studies at UCLA. In 1965, he completed his undergraduate degree and moved to Venice Beach soon after. 

Morrison wrote some of his earliest songs, such as Hello, I Love You, while living on the rooftop of a friend he met at UCLA. The summer of 1965 marked the beginning of Jim Morrison’s music career. He paired up with fellow UCLA alum and keyboardist Ray Manzarek, who was impressed with Morrison’s poetry and lyrics. 

Ray and Jim decided to form a band and began auditioning prospective musicians. Guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore rounded out the foursome that would become The Doors. Morrison chose the band’s name from the inspiration he received from Aldus Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception.

In addition to being the famous lead singer for The Doors, Jim Morrison was also known for his poetic writings. In 1969, he published two books of poetry, The Lords and The New Creatures. Future volumes of his writing would be published after his death in 1971.

Morrison Living Hard

While Jim carried on multiple relationships, often concurrently, the most significant woman in his life was Pamela Courson. Most would consider their pairing to be intense, often volatile, and full of infidelity, but they truly did love one another. Morrison’s bandmate, Ray Manzarek, called Pamela Jim’s “other half” and complimented his unique personality. 

Jim Morrison, otherwise known as The Lizard King from one of his poems, lived and played hard. His drug use was no secret and often got him into trouble with friends, girlfriends, and, of course, the law. 

In early 1971, after six years of playing music, touring, and recording albums with The Doors, Jim decided he was done. He announced to his bandmates that he was moving to Paris to join Pamela, who had previously relocated there. 

On July 3, 1971, at the age of 27, Jim Morrison was found dead in his bathtub. Officially, the cause of death was heart failure, though others who knew him claimed he had overdosed on heroin. Whatever the reason, it seemed much too soon for the world to lose an artist of his caliber. 

Who Discovered Jim Morrison and The Doors?

The Doors performed at local Los Angeles clubs for about a year before being signed to a record label. At the famed Whiskey a Go-Go club in August 1966, Elektra Records president Jac Holzman saw The Doors perform for the first time. Holzman and producer Paul Rothchild signed the band eight days later. 

The Doors recorded seven albums with Elektra Records before Jim’s death in 1971. The three remaining members would record three more albums under the band’s name. The last release in 1978, An American Prayer, included Morrison’s spoken word set to music played by the surviving members. 

Who Is the Song L.A. Woman About?

There are different interpretations of who or what the song is about. But the lyrics are pretty clearly describing the city of Los Angeles. 

I see your hair is burnin'
Hills are filled with fire

Anyone who knows Los Angeles understands there are many hills that, even back in the 60s, would often catch fire. 

If they say I never loved you
You know they are a liar

Morrison seemed to have a love-hate relationship with the city. On the one hand, he probably would have been happiest living closer to nature, away from the hustle. But having spent many years in L.A. while his music career took off, he couldn’t help but love it. 

Mr. Mojo Risin’ Lives On

Now you know the story behind Mr. Mojo Risin’ and the wild life of Jim Morrison. He and The Doors will forever live in the hearts of fans worldwide. If you’re not one of the millions of people who have heard the song L.A. Woman, now’s a great time to get to know it.

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