How Goodbye Horses Ended Up In The Silence Of The Lambs

The perfect needle-drop can elevate a scene from merely effective to totally unforgettable. Think of The Ronettes' "Be My Baby" in the opening of Martin Scorsese's "Mean Streets," Michael Madsen dancing to Stealers Wheel's "Stuck in the Middle with You" as he tortures a police officer, or Max and Rosemary dancing to The Faces' "Ooh La La" as the curtain closes on "Rushmore." These moments and songs felt fated to find each other.

One of the most hauntingly memorable pairings of all time is Jonathan Demme's use of Q Lazzarus' "Goodbye Horses" in "The Silence of the Lambs." Ted Levine, as serial killer Jame Gumb (aka "Buffalo Bill"), dances in front of a mirror, admiring himself to a rather extreme degree ("I'd f**k me") as the kidnapped Catherine Martin (Brooke Smith) plots to take a hostage of her own (poor Precious). Lazzarus, who died July 19 at the age of 61, might've been unknown to the general public when the film hit theaters in February 1991, but Demme fans were already well acquainted with the artist due to the inclusion of "Goodbye Horses" on the superb soundtrack album for "Married to the Mob." Still, years later, one wonders how Demme came across this strange ditty, which sounded like nothing else on the radio at the time.

Q Lazzarus shoots her shot

We all know aspiring artists often work lousy service industry jobs to make ends meet while pursuing their dream. You might've been there before. If so, you might've had a chance encounter with a major player in the entertainment industry, and wondered if you should take a shot and slide them that screenplay or acting reel you keep in your backpack at all times.

For Lazzarus, it was a demo tape. It was 1985. She was driving a cab in New York City when Jonathan Demme hopped in the back of her cab home after finishing the final mix on Little Steven's star-studded "Sun City" video. When she ascertained that Demme was a big deal (his landmark Talking Heads concert film, "Stop Making Sense," had caught fire a year prior), she took her shot and threw her demo tape on the car stereo. As Demme told Rolling Stone in 2012, was astounded. "Oh my god, what is this and who are you," he asked.

A one-hit wonder, but, oh, what a hit

The song found its way into "Married to the Mob," and, shockingly, was not Demme's first choice for Buffalo Bill's swaying reverie. They considered songs by The Rolling Stones and David Bowie before settling on Bob Seger's "Her Strut," which is what Levine danced to on set. Do yourself a favor, and throw on that scene while blasting Seger's hard-rocking ode to babes with attitudes. That Demme could veer from that to "Goodbye Horses" is a testament to his unerring musical sense. No filmmaker before or since had a sharper ear.

Lazzarus' song popped at the time, and she turned up in Demme's "Philadelphia" two years later to cover the Talking Heads' "Heaven." But she quit the music business in 1996 and disappeared, resurfacing only recently to DM with musician Kelsey Zimmerman on Twitter. Lazzarus' (whose real name was Diane Luckey) confirmed that she was through with music, and added that she'd been driving a bus in Staten Island for many years. It's a rough industry, and there's probably much more to the story of Lazzarus' abrupt retirement. But there's not a struggling artist in the world who wouldn't give everything to have just one moment in the sun like Lazzarus enjoyed with "Goodbye Horses."