Floppy Like a Manta Ray

Standing in the snow the other night in Chicago, talking to smart, funny, good people outside Schuba’s after the show, I was amazed at the number of times I was thanked, just for playing. These incredible people — willing to drag their asses out of their apartments and into the freezing night, miss dinner driving around looking for a parking space and part with hard earned cash just for the privilege of standing in a smoke filled room smushed up against other people — were thanking ME for showing up and doing what I would be doing anyway. Someone actually said, “What you do is so hard!” and I thought, “No…everything ELSE is hard; this is easy.”

If you ask my youngest son, who is three, what he wants to be when he grows up, he replies, “Floppy like a manta ray”. If you ask him why, he says, “Um, ’cause I would be happy-floppy.”

For those of you who’ve been told that music is hard and musicians are tortured, here is proof that at least some of us are “happy-floppy”. These are actual real-life emails my string players, The McCarricks and I exchanged before our London show last month:

Hi there BillyO and Kitten Hell,

Hope this e mail finds you guys happy and grooving to whatever it is you guys groove to.

Can you give us any info on these 4AD 25th anniversary shows at the Scala? Will there be rehearsals? We hope so. Are we playing anything we haven’t yet worked on? We hope so. We know it’s a few weeks away, but any info will be mucho appreciated. We are so excited. Can’t wait to see you. Can’t wait to play together again.

Love to all,

P.S. Set list?

Hello, darlings. We get to play! We get to play! We get to PLAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here’s my set list:

Highway to Hell; Jukebox Hero; Candy Man; Candy Girl; Cinnamon Girl; Yesterday; Tomorrow; Sunrise, Sunset; Sunshine on My Shoulder; Good Morning Starshine; Good Morning; Morning Girl; Candy Girl; Cinnamon Girl…




Kim has offered to talk to the audience this time around. We feel that that part of the show all too often gets left to you and it isn’t fair. So she may tell some anecdotes, but most likely she will just “cry” and remind the audience of how much your music has meant to her.

And then this exchange after the shows:

Help! Billy and Kristin are gone! We’ll never forget your tear stained faces, waving goodbye from the window of a black cab and screeching away into the rainy darkness…

Seriously, though: oh no! Now we can’t play anymore. Now we are sad. Now you must book an American tour with us. NOW.

The McCarricks

I want to fly back to London and bang on the doors of the Scala until somebody lets us back in — or else take the “tube” to your “flat” so we can keep playing there, at least.

Don’t you miss the best drug in the world?



Merry Hannukwanadon & Happy New Year every one of you — and thank you for listening to records and coming to shows and making me floppy as a goddamn manta ray. Hope to see you all soon, somewhere.



Posted in: words on December 25, 2005