It was approximately 8:30 AM on a Monday morning when I got an earworm I could not seem to shake. It had me humming and mumbling gibberish in a particular melody all day but I was wrestling with the correct lyrics. This was my first morning working from home (finally) and I think my girlfriend was ready to move her workspace from our office to the couch 90 minutes into my first shift. She had been working from home for almost two months at this point so I think I had infiltrated her space and effectively ruined her routine, but I couldn’t get this song out of my head. “C’mon,” I said, “I know you know the song, just listen to what I’m humming.” She was sincere in her response when she said that she truly had no idea what I was even getting at and may even have said I was tone-deaf, but that’s still up for debate around the dinner table. I only knew the melody and the fact the song included the lyric about a horse.
As I ignored my actual work, I sat in silence trying to access an additional 1% of my brain strength to scan all the useless music and lyrics I know in an attempt to unearth the correct melodic phrase of the song from my memory reserves. It was starting to become my enemy, I almost made a vow to never listen to a single note of music again until I figured out what song was stuck in my head. I hopped on Google and searched “Best songs about horses”, as any normal person would do. The results that populated ranged from Willie Nelson to The Sunday’s, and I listened to them all. I hit play on “A Horse With No Name” by America and all the planets seemed to align in this moment of existential clarity, I found it. I played it for Shannon and she sung along, every damn word. “I knew it!” I exclaimed, “I KNEW you KNEW the song, why did you let me struggle through this?” I let the song play through twice before I had another intrusive thought: “Is this as good as Goodbye Horses?” The answer is, and will always remain, no because Goodbye Horses is thee best song that has to do with horses theoretically or otherwise.
Legend has it on a snowy night sometime in the late 80’s in New York City, legendary director Jonathan Demme hailed a cab going god knows where. The cab driver asked Demme if they were in the music business and Demme replied, “not really.” The cab driver slipped a tape into the cassette deck and let it play. “Oh my god, what is this and who are you?”, Demme asked the driver. The song was Goodbye Horses and the driver went by the name Q. Demme would go on to work with Q, first using Goodbye Horses in his film Married to the Mob and another Q Lazzarus track, Candle Goes Away, in Something Wild. Demme also asked Q to cover the Talking Heads track Heaven for the film Philadelphia, in which she also makes an appearance. All of this built up to Goodbye Horses being used in the infamous Buffalo Bill scene in Silence Of The Lambs, where he would ask us over and over, “Would you fuck me? I’d fuck me.”
Who is Q and where are they now? Literally no one knows. She is cited under the names Diane Lucky, Quiana Lazzaru, and Quiana Diana Lazzarus but her legal name and age are unknown. Speculators guess that she’s in her mid-50’s now. Over the years, many people have searched for her because she is owed quite a bit of cash. William Garvey, who wrote Goodbye Horses and was in Q Lazzarus and the Resurrection, sued the piss out of MGM when Family Guy used Goodbye Horses for a recreation of the Buffalo Bill scene in an episode. According to people that knew her, she wasn’t claiming or collecting any of her royalties for the song. Garvey suspected that she had died in the 90’s because no one could track her down until 2007 when a lawyer claiming to represent her reached out to Garvey. Not sure what came about of that conversation but hopefully Q was written a large check.
A backup singer for Q, Gloriana Galicia, was close to her and remembered their friendship. They met at a West Village club party in 1985 and, eventually, Galicia looked to Q as a big sister. Galicia reflects on a time Q took her to Harlem for a new weave and says Q had, “an amazing heart, carried herself as a queen.” Galicia says that Q claimed to be 20 at the time but everyone thought she may have been older. She worked odd day jobs so she could find time to record harmonies to a cassette tape because her dreams were always success and fame in the music business, but record companies were not ready to take a chance on her due to her looks so she was deemed “unmarketable.” She had a response for these record companies and their doubts, “I market myself, I’m a big boned African-American woman who wears dreads, and sings American rock ‘n’ roll – I market myself.”
Everyone feared Q was in an toxic, abusive relationship in which she was being controlled and forced into isolation by a man. Galicia thinks Q moved to the United Kingdom at some point. “Q went in the late 80s to the UK [and] put a band together. Last time I saw her she gave me a demo and it was great” says Galicia. I would like to think if Q was still making and releasing music we would’ve heard it by now. She has the most unique and instantly recognizable androgynous voice that commands attention from all listeners. Q broke her 30 year silence in 2018 on Twitter after the initial Dazed article was published citing most of the information above and a few fan tweets. Kelsey Zimmerman and her band wanted to cover Goodbye Horses so she took to Twitter for answers. “Time to do my monthly Google of whether anyone has heard from Q Lazzarus yet or not.” To her surprise, she received a reply from someone claiming to be Q, saying that she was indeed alive. Q followed it with, “Any questions?” Kelsey then direct messaged her an email’s worth. She got this response:
“Hi, sorry to bother you. I just wanted people to know I am still alive, I have no interest in singing anymore. I am a bus driver in Staten Island (I have been for YEARS), I see hundreds of passengers everyday so I am hardly hiding (or dead!) I have given Thomas Gorton (Dazed) my fone number and address just to confirm I am ‘real’, sorry if this is a boring end to the story, I am going to come off twitter soon as I find it odd, please take note of this message in case anyone else is interested. THANK YOU”
Despite this, Kelsey wasn’t convinced so she continued to research. The woman claiming to be Q posted a selfie before deleting her account and she did resemble the very mysterious looking promo shots from 30 years prior. Kelsey Googled “Diane Luckey” because that was the name used on the Twitter account and apparently there was a woman of this name who filed a lawsuit against the Staten Island bus company in 2015 for not having a single woman bus driver. Kelsey goes on to list how incredibly difficult it would be for someone to make all of this up, but we can assume Q was probably frustrated by the Dazed Digital article claiming she is dead and wanted to reclaim her narrative.
What does this mean for the greater good of the music community? Nothing really. I would love to see Q make a return so I could hear her haunting voice but what’s more important is that she is living a simple and happy life. Maybe she’s one of the lucky ones that made it out before it got bad? We will leave it all to speculation but I hope Q is doing well and I hope to hear more from her one day, a book would be amazing.
You also may be asking yourself, “What does all of this have to do anything?” Well it doesn’t, but on the morning I mentioned in the first two paragraphs I created a playlist containing the 10 best songs about horses that are as almost as good as Goodbye Horses by Q Lazzarus (working title). I ask you to give it a listen and reflect on what you enjoy about your life and hold onto it. Do what makes you happy and don’t let anyone tell you what you need to look like or sound like to be successful anywhere. This message is for Q if she ever comes across this, please send me an email I would love to talk with you over the phone and hear stories about the people you come across on a Staten Island bus.