Several decades ago, I acquired the piano sheet music for the Star Trek: TOS theme song. This was the classic soundtrack, the original 60s score by Alexander Courage.
I sat down at my piano, opened the music, and was shocked to discover not only the musical notes, but the lyrics. Words written by none other than Gene Roddenberry himself.
I’m sure some of you know about this already, but for the rest of you, here are Roddenberry’s lyrics to the original Star Trek theme:
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.
Wow. Those are certainly…words. They have syllables and everything.
But it gets better. According to Snopes, the lyrics were a way for Roddenberry to claim half of Alexander Courage’s royalties for the music.
“Pressured by Roddenberry, Courage had made a “handshake deal” a couple of years earlier that gave Roddenberry the option of composing lyrics for Courage’s Star Trek music (and Courage signed a contract — unknowingly, he later claimed — to that effect). Roddenberry exercised that option, writing lyrics for the main theme and then asserting his right to half the performance royalties as a co-composer. It made no difference that the lyrics were not intended to be used in the show itself and had never been recorded or released. As the lyricist, Roddenberry was entitled to an equal share of the royalties, whether or not the lyrics were ever used.”
“Courage protested in vain that although the arrangement may have been legal, it was unethical: Roddenberry’s lyrics added nothing to the value of the music and were created for no reason other than to usurp half the composer’s performance royalties. An unsympathetic Roddenberry proclaimed, “Hey, I have to get some money somewhere. I’m sure not going to get it out of the profits of Star Trek.””
This has been your random bit of geek history/trivia for the day.