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'Star Trek' at 50: The theme song has lyrics. No, really!

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?

FULL COVERAGE: The 50th anniversary of 'Star Trek' »

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:

Beyond

The rim of the star-light

My love

Is wand'ring in star-flight

I know

He'll find in star-clustered reaches

Love,

Strange love a star woman teaches.

I know

His journey ends never

His star trek

Will go on forever.

But tell him

While he wanders his starry sea

Remember, remember me.

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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?

chris.barton@latimes.com

Follow me over here @chrisbarton.

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