We found out that William Garvey, the man who wrote “Goodbye Horses” (originally performed by Q Lazzarus) died last night.
I’m so fucking sad. I’d heard the rumor from David Hawes from Catherine Wheel who was hanging out with us. So I googled it this morning and I found the death notice online and now I can’t help but be so sad about it. Something about those words: “death notice.”
He wrote a beautiful song. I understand why he wrote it. I know it in and out. Those enigmatic lyrics, the longing of it, the sadness. We’ve played it so much, I feel like it has become part of our lives.
He wrote me an e-mail a few weeks ago to tell me that I’d been singing the lyrics wrong. He’d watched a bunch of YouTube clips of us playing it and said that the line at the ends was “flying over you” not “lying over you.” He was annoyed. I wrote him back, apologized for the mistake (a few lyrics websites have it listed as “lying” and I honestly thought that’s what it sounded like) and told him I would correct the mistake, that I admired him and thought it was a wonderful piece of music.
He perked right up with a few more e-mails and told me he loved our version and that we should record it. He told me that he really liked our band and then talked about how he’d spent a long time trying to create a new sound for music. I didn’t quite understand what he meant, but then I didn’t care. It was just great to have this interaction with him. To be part of his world, to feel as if we were part of the same world. Like we were both artists and we shared this song in common. It was literally the first time I’d ever felt this way.
And I love his song. I love playing it. The big break, the odd notes hanging in the air at the beginning, the crescendo at the end. We were going to ask him to join us onstage on our fall tour to play the song.
So he died on Monday and I found out last night and I read the Death Notice this morning and I can’t help but tear up.
Touring is madness and you lose touch with reality. We’ve been on the road for over a year now and the days keep getting more and more surreal. After awhile, you start to feel like you’re living in a dream-world. Like the people you meet are just characters in some kind of waking dream. It becomes a blur. There’s a lot of drinking and a lot of loud music, loud crowds, crazy nights, quiet mornings, endless flights and meet-and-greets and phone calls home. And of course, music. The only part of it that feels meaningful. And William has been part of that for a long time now since we’ve been covering the song every night. So I feel like I’ve lived with him, or his creation, for a long time, here in this dream world.
I read somewhere what he intended the meaning of the lyrics to be: that in Eastern philosophy, horses are symbolic of the 5 senses. They represent the things that keep you tied to your physical existence. And when you achieve a higher level of consciousness, when you transcend your physical state, you leave the horses behind. You are “flying over” them. So the song is about someone who is so affected by loss that they decide to give up on the things that keep them tied to this world.
I know almost nothing else about him. I guess there’s some sort of mundane statement to be made here about the power of music to connect people. But it doesn’t feel like that. It feels like he’s here, watching me write this. Like he’ll be there tonight when we play it at our show. Like I know him because I know his song. And I’m so sad he died because I was so grateful that he lived.
Very Sad…Silence of the Lambs is one of the greatest movies and this song made that scene unforgettable. I saw you in Coachella and will see you in Del Mar on Friday…I can only assume there will be a tribute.
I hope you include this in your set when you’re in Seattle.
This is sad news…I am glad that you guys can help him live on by playing his song for him and i hope that you record this song on ur next album in his memory.
Wow – very sad! I was just singing that song to myself on my way home from Cleveland where you totally were intense. I met you guys after, and told you to write a song about the “incident” last night. Maybe Melee on the streets of Cleveland would be a good start – about a girl breaking up fights!!! So surreal – will see you guys soon!
Man, this is really sad. I always listen to goodbye horses when I’m driving alone on the freeway at night. I remembered someone told me that everyone lives on by the people who knew them. So William Garvey will live on by Goodbye Horses.
Sounded fantastic in Cincytucky, and we’re so lucky it was a small setting. Probably the last time it’ll be that intimate, and I’m happy to have seen you guys in that venue.
Thanks for a rockin’ show, hope to catch Columbus or LA.
And thanks for realizing that the dream world that is created is enjoyed immensely by those who are privileged to share in it.
Great tribute to William Garvey at the show in Covington tonight.
as the time passes,
the sadness will subside
and the pain will disappear.
but the connection we have,
the admiration we feel,
will last for the rest of our life.
Seen you perform this live many times , will be a fitting tribute to the great man if you release goodbye horses soonest.
Beautiful song it dosn’t make me sad. It make me feel my heart I love it when a song makes my feelings come alive. As TATE makes me feel.
Oh, Mikel … I have loved The Airborne Toxic Event covering that song and look forward to it at every gig. It’s a beautiful sensitive song and you sing it so well.
I’m glad you and William established a rapport and understanding.
I do appreciate the post made by Dan above, as well.
RIP, William Garvey.
Hey guys…totally enjoyed the show in Cleveland.As we told you at the pub…well worth the drive from Niagara Falls.Great to have met all of you,not many bands would have taken the time to have a beer with a fan!
Hope Anna is ok after the little fall gettin back on stage, she never missed a beat.
Maybe see ya in Toronto. Its your round!
Tim & Patti
A fantastic song, gorgeous lyrics, an enormous loss. And you guys cover it so beautifully. I’m a writer myself, and Mikel I must say that I feel in my heart every word you write or sing. It is such a privilege to have your band in my life. I’m so grateful for your music. Your music gets me through so many days and makes me smile when it seems like only the remotest possibility. I met you guys in Boston on Saturday and although I was sort of flailing and overwhelmed, you can’t imagine what that bit of interaction with all of you meant to me. Or actually, maybe you can. So, thank you.
I saw your performance on the fifth of that song, and I was really looking forward to that one being in the setlist. I did not know of his death till you told us about it in the intro. You all were spectacular, I feel honored to have witnessed your performance that night. Thanks for a wonderful memory that I will have of that song, I have always loved it since I first heard it years ago. Thanks to you and the rest of the band for bringing it back with class and perfection, you guys definitely did it justice. I’m quite sure he was proud to have been a part of a show that we all enjoyed immensely. Keith
Thank you so much for writing this article about my uncle. I am his niece, Jennifer Howell. I am sure he was honored to know how highly you thought of him. Yes, he passed on Monday. I was at the hospital with my mother and aunt (his sisters) when it happened. We had found out that he had a major stroke at about 5pm. At a little after 7pm, he was gone. He suffered from congestive heart failure & had been hospitalized a lot over the past year. Several times we were told that he wasn’t going to pull through, but he did. We thought Monday night was going to be the same way….but sadly, it was not.
I would like to go to one of your shows and see your performance of “Goodbye Horses”. Let me know when your next show will be in Cleveland.
Please email me the info.
you guys should record your version, if thats what he wanted.
What a blessing to have had the chance to talk with Mr. Garvey, Mikel. How rarely we get to make a personal connection with those we admire “from afar”. I’m both happy you could make his acquaintance and sad that it was so brief…
Great show last night your version of Goodbye Horses was amazing as was everything else. Thanks for a great time – keep on rocking!
Keeping William’s spirit alive is pretty cool Mikel, you should absolutely record the song your way, that’s the uniqueness of it and I bet William would like that.
Don’t be sad though man, he’s in a better place now and you got to talk to him before he went there.
i had Goodbye Horses set as my ringtone for a long time. i had to change it because every time my phone rang people around me felt uncomfortable since the song became infamous after it was featured in Silence of the Lambs. i really enjoyed the song and loved it even more after the parody of the “Lambs” scene in Clerks 2. i guess when something is THAT famous it really evokes very different and very powerful emotions
This is so strange, i was listening to ‘Goodbye Horses’ for the first time (and realising how incredible it is) and i remebered i had to buy tickets for your gig in the Olympia, Dublin.
Then I searched you guys and ticketmaster, and just as i was buying the tickets glanced at this post!
It was so strangly coincidental, and awful! Im so sad that the man who wrote the song is dead. I dont know anything about him, or any of his other music, but just from listiening to that song i know that he must have been a great talent and should be remebered.
Cant wait to see you guys in Dublin!
There are times I have felt that when you take lyrics inside you to mean something, nothing can change how you feel about them. We are lucky to have you bring that song to stage with honesty and sincerity, maybe even higher than Mr. Garvey’s expectations. That my friend, is the power your of music. See you in Philly !
and so thats life. We moarn and suffer and wonder why did they die, why couldn’t they live any longer and enjoy life? But we don’t relize usually that its part of life and that they’re going on. Techincally you say they have died and yes they are not coming back, they have just reached the top of humanity. Think about all the great moments realizeing how wonderful their life was. Take time to think about their greatness and accomplishments.
I heard you cover that song at Lollapalooza…and have to say that it was really good. It made me appreciate the song more. I hope that you put it on your next album or on an ep. It was a blast watching you guys play the other day!
I really love the way you explain how everything seems like a dream. The quiet mornings after the rush can either leave you feeling better or perhaps even more confused. Isnt that funny?
Have you woken to the “where am I” question yet? I am sure you have. I can only imagine the incredible journey you must be having.
How wonderful that you were able to have such great conversations with Mr. Garvey before his passing. I am sure that you made him very proud. It would have been magic to see you guys perform together on stage. I really would have needed a few drinks after watching something like that.
I look forward to your performance in Seattle at the Showbox. I myself have never been there. I have heard its a really wonderful place. I could not get any of my friends to come with me since we have very different taste in music. I am a little worried about going alone, but at the same time I feel the courage starting to build up. I mean the worst thing that could happen is my car gets broken into or I end up being stalked by some guy who wants to talk about computers all night or something really weird like that. I guess I primarily look forward to listening to your music which brings out the real me, and for that I am willing to get stranded in Seattle. I really just dont give a damn!
I am very sad to hear the news. It is a great song and may you keep it alive everytime you play it. It’s strange, evertime I meet up with you guys I also feel like I’m swept up in the dream world you were describing. The crowds that have got increasingly bigger every show, the loud music, the brief meetings with strangers whose only connection is the music. I think it would be a great idea to record the song. I will listen to it loud later this evening. Keep doing what you do Mikel.
Love Sean x
Saw you guys at Lolla.
Your album has some seminal moments to me personally.
Seeing the set, and hearing Goodbye Horses, I was crying.
Glad you are coming back to Chicago.
Hope the new album is soon–loved the new song (did you play one or two new ones? I thought it was two!)!!
I don’t reckon it’s any consolidation at all, but The Airborne Toxic Event have given me meaning. Your music has been something that I can center my life around – focus on – escape with. There’s something in it which gives me hope. I think music that holds people up in the way that yours does, is magical. And the people who make it; even more so.
If you felt even half as strongly about Goodbye Horses, then I send you a virtual hug. It would hurt pretty bad to have that taken away from you. A little bit of that dream. I really just want you to know – the way that you feel about William Garvey, is the way a lot of people feel about you. You’re my legend.
I can’t wait to see you guys perform live. So when you hit Sydney on the 11th next month, say hi.
So sorry for the loss of William Garvey. But a big thanks to you Mikel, once again you have brought some special music to my world. I had never heard the song ‘Goodbye Horses’and it is truly beautiful, I just wish I could get the chance to hear/see you guys perform it. Maybe when you are next back in England!!! I hope you get the chance to do some more recording before too long, my guess is you have lots of amazing songs lined up for our delight.
Once again, Sheffield was amazing, thank you for a magnificent performance. Take care and much love xxooxx
its truely aweful to lose something or someone that brings influence and inspiration to your world. I am sorry.
He lives on every time someone hears his music wether it be your version or his.
cant wait to see you guys agian in Pomona, Ca. Just listening to your music (art) gives me my temporary escape, and seeing you perform it is a high i have rarely experienced. it’s awesome.
I love when you guys perform this song! It is beautiful! So sorry that he passed away! I love the way you explain the song and how it made you feel. I swear if I wasn’t already married, I would propose to you! I can’t wait to see you at the Disney Concert Hall! Until then, my friends!
I saw you guys in Lolla; when you began singing Goodbye Horses, I felt such a deep feeling. There was a difference between the rest of your set. I don’t think too many people understood the significance of the song. I did and really pray that you record it. To be able to have that moment relived everytime I need to let go. Thank you soo much for the great memory. (please do record it soon)
Listening to your music and arrangements just makes me want to watch you more and more. Very real lyrics and a well needed new sound. My wife tells me I am going to wear out the songs. I am just thrilled with your new sound,real basic rock with your own diversity. Love it!
All of the songs original or not while very well arranged again I cannot say enough about the unique combinations utilizing the base as a chello and the violin together is definately a refreshing addition and draw to your style. Your vesitility with all your musicians will make you beome and continue to be a very big draw. Keep it up you will be one of musics great Icons!Can’t wait to see you live. WE need more California concerts!
I have been wathing you on the Bat Club video on 101. Can’t get enough of your style!
Good luck and hope to see you soon.
Mikel & band-
I wouldn’t even have found you if it weren’t for William Garvey. So yes, music connects us all, profoundly, beautifully. Goodbye Horses is a touchstone for me, has been since I was a teenager.
I literally discovered your band at Austin City Limits fest last weekend because you were playing “Goodbye Horses”. I was a half mile across the park seeing another show, and when I heard your sound floating over, I literally took off running through the mud and rain and crowds like a fucking madwoman toward that sound. My friends thought I’d lost my mind, they couldn’t imagine what would elicit such a bizarre reaction.
And then I got to the stage, realized you were REALLY REALLY playing it, and started bawling like a complete moron.
I have never, ever known anyone else who was even familiar with this song.
So thank you thank you all for bringing this gorgeous song to so many people. And thanks to William Garvey for bringing me to your band. I am now a gigantic fan.
See you in D.C. next week. I’ll be the jackass boo-hooing in the front row!
Wow, you are an amazing writer. I miss seeing ATE live. Your concerts are truly an amazing experience…I haven’t been able to go to one of your shows since…about a year ago…when my ex and I broke up. Believe it or not, you guys actually brought us together. Now that it’s over, I find it hard to listen to you…but I still do.
I just discovered the song through nip tuck last episode (last wednesday), I bought it on itunes right away and the day after i learnt that the singer had passed away too… strange and sad
I knew Bill Garvey as a young girl…he was best friends with my brother for a few years, in the 1970’s. He was so kind, gentle, funny, and creative. I am deeply saddened. Silence of the Lambs is one of my favorite movies, and this song…wow! Never knew it was him, never even knew he became a songwriter.
I googled bill’s death. I don’t have any idea of who you are? I guess I could google you. I’m posting this because I love this song and I can tell you do too. I found this song threw Silence of the lambs. Which was great, but what sucks is this song has that negative “wild Bill” relationship. Its a beautiful song and people always bring up “bill”. Try using the lyrics without the familiar intro and bass tones, just to see the response. Rock on. And you only live once, don’t let the horses guide you. You guide them. they are a tool of travel.