The song is, or became, one of those lonely, beautiful one-offs in pop history. It’s popped in and out of our collective consciousness for over thirty years now. Filmmaker Jonathan Demme thought it was undeniably a hit and used it (and a few other Q Lazzarus songs) in a couple films. It sticks with everyone who hears it. I guess 1987 though wasn’t ready for a black woman singing pop songs. It didn’t fit into the MTV Multiverse. The didn’t know how to market “black people singing white music.” That’s exactly how it was talked about back then. Living Colour wrote songs about it. Robert Townsend made a film about fitting black people into a white supremacist world in Hollywood Shuffle. This isn’t a new phenomenon, and it’s not really over either.
Anyway… Diane Lucky wrote and sang it. Who was she? Who was Diane Luckey?
This is Rolling Stone’s take on her… Q Lazzarus:
The artist, born Diane Luckey, had her music prominently featured in four Jonathan Demme movies — including Silence of the Lambs — but was never able to get a full-fledged music career off the ground.
It wasn’t exactly like she couldn’t do it. She was denied it. Let’s be honest here. She ended up a bus driver, which is cool. You do what you need to do to get by, but let’s just be honest, please.
Wikipedia does a better job:
Lazzarus was repeatedly turned away by record companies, who insisted they could not market her due to the dreadlocks she wore.
Weird, right? Or not so weird at all.
But let’s just pay some attention to the song, and not the injustice in the story. There’s something there. I’ve never heard a song that quite captured that vibe quite as well. What vibe, you might ask? What are the right words? Maybe it’s enough to just describe it as “loss.” Sometimes loss is just the prevailing mood.
What have we lost? Hell, we’ve all lost so much over the course of our lives. We lost family. We lost lovers. We lost dreams. We lost futures. It’s the common thread that binds all of us, whether or not we acknowledge the heartbreak inherent to living. We barely acknowledge the common joys, but rarely do we admit that we all hurt. Rarely do we console each other, which is what we should be doing, instead of blaming, accusing, and persecuting. And that’s the biggest loss of all, isn’t it? We lost the basic love for each other.
We lost the common decency that might make someone look beyond skin color and celebrate the artists in the skin. We lost the big connect.
As a group, anyway. There are individuals who get it and have it.
Until about a month ago there was Diane Luckey. So long, love. Goodbye Horses…