On Repeat: Goodbye Horses

February 25th, 2012, byJeremy Freed

One of my favorite things is discovering new music that’s actually old music. Especially when I’ve actually heard the music in question before, probably a few times, and never made the specific connection to it until the present moment. For the last few days, that has been the case with “Goodbye Horses,” written by William Garvey and performed by Q Lazzarus.

The song was written in the late 1980s and first appeared in popular culture in the soundtrack to Jonathan Demme’s 1988 film Married to the Mob. A few years later, Demme included the song in the soundtrack to Silence of the Lambs, in a memorable scene featuring that film’s antagonist, the serial killer “Buffalo Bill.”  Due to the popularity of that film, and the particularly skillful use of the song in it, Q Lazzarus released it as a single in 1991, along with a B-Side called “White Lines.”

As far as Lazzarus’ musical career goes, there’s very little known about her beyond that, except a cameo in Philadelphia and scattered rumors that she was once a New York taxi driver.

The song, meanwhile, lives on in popular culture, mostly in relation to Silence of the Lambs, and was referenced notably in Family Guy and Clerks 2 (both links slightly NSFW).

While Q Lazzarus remains mysterious, Garvey has been more public about the song, its lyrics and what it means to him, with some explanation posted on his website.

“It has a rather grisly association with the serial killer in The Silence of the Lambs,” Garvey wrote in 1998, “but really the song is about transcendence over those who see the world as only earthy and finite. The horses represent the five senses from Hindu philosophy (The Bhagavad Gita) and the ability to lift one’s perception above these physical limitations and to see beyond this limited Earthly perspective.”

So there you have it. A great song with a cool story behind it. If anyone knows what Q is up to these days, let me know!

Last modified: February 25, 2012 at 9:46 pm