For those who grew up with syndicated UHF programming, the opening to “Star Trek” is about as indelible as it gets.
With delicate orchestral flickers framing an introduction that begins with William Shatner’s stentorian narration “Space… the final frontier,” the familiar, one-minute theme gallops on an operatic soprano that resembles a theremin framed by strings and brass. But what if that wordless melody actually had lyrics?
Before you start picturing Bill Murray’s swinging lounge singer delivering a theme to “Star Wars,” those lyrics already exist, written by the series’ beloved creator, Gene Roddenberry. And somehow, they’re more awkward than even Nick Winters could have imagined. Read them below:
The rim of the star-light
Is wand'ring in star-flight
He'll find in star-clustered reaches
Strange love a star woman teaches.
His journey ends never
His star trek
Will go on forever.
But tell him
While he wanders his starry sea
Remember, remember me.
To be fair to Roddenberry, it’s possible he wasn’t trying very hard. When the series first aired, the theme music had been composed by the evocatively named, and very prolific, Alexander Courage, who was an arranger with 20th Century Fox.
After Courage enjoyed a year of royalties, Roddenberry picked up his option to add lyrics, which didn’t need to be used to qualify him for half of the song’s performance royalties as co-composer.
But do these lyrics add to the “Star Trek” story? The song offers the classic perspective of a lover left behind by a wayward sailor — presumably Shatner’s Capt. James T. Kirk — but there’s something more revealing about what Roddenberry recognized as integral to that journey.
While the object of the singer’s affection is out exploring the stars, apparently it’s just assumed he will find the “Love, strange love a star woman teaches.” That sounds something akin to an intergalactic “Kama Sutra,” and given Kirk’s various alien romantic interludes, the singer knew him all too well. But hey, as long as he remembers her every now and then, right?
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