Mambo's Mojo

AC: Talk to me about Mambo John Treanor, who died last year and was an integral part of the Resentments.

JDG: I miss him terribly.

TSB: I miss him now more than ever. On that song, "Just a Dream" [from Spirit World], the last verse is about Mambo. I wrote it the day he died. I talked to him that day. I told the producer, "I got one, maybe two takes of this in me."

JDG: His total surrender to music was his church, his spirituality. And it's one of the things that pulled me and Stephen together. It makes me realize the superficial stuff is just that. When Mambo talked about "The Music," it was with a capital T and a capital M. It was all one thing, this glorious, beautiful, perfect thing. His surrender to the glory of it was a singular thing. I've never met anyone who did it like that.

TSB: That thing about playing music like it's the last time you'll play ... he did that week after week after week with cancer. One night he collapsed onstage and I didn't know if he was dead or not. I went to him and whispered in his ear, "If you're not dead, put your arm around me." He put his arm around me and we picked him up and carried him outside.

Every time he walked in, there was a substantial loss to his body weight, but when he started playing, he was kicking. He became larger than life. I would go home at night and wrestle with it all, because it was hard to let go. He was fighting but ... he was looking over the abyss and you could see it in his eyes. I carry him with me everywhere I go.

JDG: He's around a lot.

TSB: The Indians say the spirit world is the real world. That's where he existed anyway.

JDG: Toward the end, he was losing feeling and couldn't use his arm well or hold it up. He showed up one night and rigged a cymbal stand with a sling to hold his left arm over the snare so he could play. It broke my heart, like it had gone too long and maybe he was dying faster because of this. So I said, "Mambo, why are you doing this?" and he said with beautiful clarity, "Because if I don't, I can't play." I felt like the biggest pussy on earth.

TSB: Walking it like he talked it. Didn't he tell you to go play when he was in the hospital?

JDG: Me and Scrappy [Jud Newcomb] were there and I told Scrappy we needed to call the club and say we weren't gonna make it. And Mambo said, "Go on and do the gig. Don't be afraid. I'm not afraid." We were little puppies with our tails between our legs. And there was a man.

TSB: There was a man.

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