The Mysterious Legacy of Q Lazzarus' "Goodbye Horses"

Photo: from the original 1993 vinyl cover, and one of the few known photos of Q Lazzarus

Some 25 years ago, Q Lazzarus' sole hit, the hypnotic dance-thump that is "Goodbye Horses", soundtracked a fairly popular Jonathan Demme movie. Amazingly, it wasn't Silence With the Lambs. With an anniversary vinyl release upon us, we dig up even more facts about this glorious pop anomaly ...

Q Lazzarus

Goodbye Horses [25th Anniversary Re-Release]

Label: Mon Amie
US Release Date: 2013-07-16

It's hard to believe that over some 25 years ago, Q Lazzarus' sole hit, the strangely entrancing thump of "Goodbye Horses", was featured quite prominently in a well-received movie. That movie, of course, was Married to the Mob.

Wait, is that right?

Actually it is. Years before "Goodbye Horses" soundtracked one of the most unique scenes in cinema history during Silence of the Lambs, the song found quite a home in the Michelle Pfeiffer vehicle Married to the Mob. Even these decades down the line, still not much is known about the mysterious chanteuse Q Lazzarus aside from the fact that she worked as a taxi driver prior to being discovered as a singer (she later went on to have minor singing parts in films like Something Wild and Philadelphia, but almost entirely disappeared after that). To celebrate the anniversary of the release, "Goodbye Horses" is being put out on limited-edition vinyl via Mon Amie records, the a-side featuring Q Lazzarus' original rendition, the b-side being a remarkably astute, considered cover of the song by Wild Beasts' Hayden Thrope and Jon Hopkins.

So why cover the song? Thrope describes the song's mysterious wonder (and the cover version's subsequent recording) thusly:

"Jon has a sensibility which deeply resonates with me. When our mutual friend and Mon Amie records founder Mona Dehghan brought us together it seemed the perfect excuse to try working together and see what happened. Actually undertaking the cover felt effortless. We figured out our approach in one go, he played the piano beautifully, figuring it out as he went along and I sang as best a could, it felt just right. The track itself is really alluring, very enigmatic and quite unusual in subject and approach. I suppose it lends itself perfectly to being covered because of that. It took me a few days to clear my head once we'd done the cover, a fog kind of descended, the song is pretty heartbreaking."

Thus, when it came to recording the duo's minimalist, haunting cover, there was a lot of debate as to how to go about it. You can stream the cover below, which very much achieves a haunting soundscape that very much unearths the sad, tragicomic elements of the original lyrics (written by producer William Garvey). Hopkins, in tackling the cover, tells us about the amazing turnaround that was done to create their cover in just one day:

"This entire track was recorded, produced, and mixed from scratch in one day. It was one of the most intense recording experiences I’ve had, but not because it was hard work -- it actually seemed to form itself very quickly -- but because of the strange psychedelic intensity of the source material. There is a darkness inherent in the lyrics that was so amazingly suited to Hayden's voice. Once we had played through the song together for the first time, it became clear to me that nothing was going to be needed apart from piano, some sort of pulse, and some distant darkness.

The piano was first take, the vocal was first take, and everything else was built out of processed versions of those two things. The final result scares me for some reason. We both felt like something weird had happened that day, that there was this incredible atmosphere, like we were channeling the strange and dark things that surrounded the makers of the original."

It's somewhat amazing/quite wonderful to see such a quirky tune still find relevance some years down the line. Buzz has there might even be some more, lesser-known Q Lazzarus material released in the near future. No matter how it turns out, we're just as curious as you are to hear what it sounds like.

The 10 Best Debut Albums of 2009

Continuing our celebration of PopMatters' 20th anniversary, we revisit our 10 picks for the best debut albums of 2009. It turns out our selections were prescient as many of these artists have gone on to storied careers. Travel back to 2009 and see them again for the first time.


The 60 Best Albums of 2009

PopMatters turns 20 years old this October and we're beginning to celebrate our history by taking you back in time a decade ago. Obama was in the White House and the musical times were very good indeed. Revisit 2009 through its best albums.

Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2018 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.