Our main character Ford Stevens grew up in China with his American family, and moved around a lot due to his father’s career with the oil company. In order to explain “Jojo Rising”, it is worth mentioning the background on how the phrase was born to both Ford and his Chinese best friend, Wu Lee.
In once scene, Wu, after a life or death experience in the story, looked up at Ford from the ground. Wu then looked up at the sky, and blinked slowly. He stared off in to the abyss, thinking about what just happened. In his heart, he was forever indebted to Ford.
“Jojo rising,” Wu said, barely, with a slight smile, referring to their favorite band The Doors, and their ‘L.A. Woman’ song from the 1971 Elektra label album. The original lyrics sung by lead singer Jim Morrison were “mojo rising”, but when Wu first heard the song, he could not make out the words. So he started singing “jojo rising” instead, and it stuck.
“Jojo rising, Wu,” Ford replied.
Their private saying ‘Jojo rising’ meant to them a greater spirit and internal flame that enabled them to do things together and tackle life. It was their special sauce, the exceptional charisma and determination to accomplish goals, was their jojo rising. Wu loved the American music video of The Doors’ lead singer Jim Morrison, just cruising and driving around Los Angeles, California in his Mustang, and to Wu, it was classic America. Just driving around, taking in the palm trees and ocean and warm weather, doing what you wanted to do, when you wanted to do it. It was very American, and very different from Wu’s upbringing, which was why Wu loved it. Some critics argued Jim Morrison put a sexual connection to the phrase, but that’s not how Ford and Wu took it at all. It meant boundless, no limits, land of opportunity. Go out there and make something happen. It was, to them, simply, jojo rising.