LEONARD NIMOY SINGS
This article is definitely for those of us over “a certain age” – those of us who watched and remembered the original broadcasts of Star Trek from 1966 to 1968! You youngsters may know Leonard Nimoy from all the follow-up Star Trek movies, but WE saw and lived the innovative series and met him as it happened!
Leonard Nimoy, of course, portrayed the half-Vulcan half-Human Mr. Spock on the series and in all the follow-ups, maintaining and developing the character from the groundbreaking pilot “The Cage”, which was filmed in late 1964, until his final appearance (before his death) in the 2013 “Star Trek: Into Darkness”.
“The Cage” was never aired (until 1988, that is!), but the footage was incorporated into the two-part “The Menagerie”, aired during the first (1966) season.
Leonard Nimoy was NOT just an actor, although many folks don’t know that. He was also a professional photographer; a writer and novelist; a TV and movie director; a book, TV and film producer; a poet; a songwriter and a singer! This article, naturally, is about his career as a songwriter and singer.
Wait, you didn’t KNOW that Leonard Nimoy was a songwriter and singer? He recorded five albums during his career – that’s one more than either Roy Rogers or Hank Wilson recorded! (I once had ALL FIVE, and wish I still had them!)
Nimoy’s first album came about through the demands of one of Mr. Spock’s avid fans – how else?! Dot Records VIP Charles Green was planning a studio album of Star Trek-based “space music”. His teenaged daughter informed him that if he was recording “space music”, ESPECIALLY Star Trek “space music” than, of course, Mr. Spock would HAVE to be on it! Green contacted Nimoy, who was interested.
The 1967 album Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space was the result, and reached number 83 on the Billboard charts, with Nimoy’s single A Visit to a Small Planet / Theme From Star Trek going up to number 121 on Billboard. These sales figures were successful enough that Dot offered Nimoy a recording contract. Green also personally produced Nimoy’s first four albums.
Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy followed, released in early 1968. Side one was, again, Star Trek-based “space music”, but the songs were more personal, reflecting Mr. Spock’s conflict between his Vulcan and Human halves, especially By Myself and Once I Smiled. Once I Smiled was based on “This Side of Paradise” (Season one, Episode twenty-four, March 2, 1967), in which Mr. Spock learned how to express and exhibit human emotions, even love. In the closing scene of the episode, Spock comments about his experiences, observing, “I’ve little to say about it, Captain ... except that for the first time in my life, I was happy.” Side two is a mélange of pop and country, and includes the classic Ballad of Bilbo Baggins. Too bad that this song didn’t get picked up for Jackson’s movies!
Fall 1968 brought the release of The Way I Feel, Nimoy’s third album. This album pretty much got away from the Mr. Spock persona, mostly consisting of folk songs. Two tracks, however, Consilium and Where It’s At, were recitations, not songs, and kind of can be related to Mr. Spock – or at least, they’re kind of “spacey”.
With 1969 came album four, The Touch of Leonard Nimoy, all folk and love songs. An interesting note is that in Star Trek’s third season episode (November 22, 1968, episode No. 65) “Plato’s Stepchildren”, Mr. Spock was forced by highly sadistic telekenitic aliens to laugh, cry, and sing a love song to Lt. Uhura and Nurse Chapel, and even kiss Chapel (who carried an unrequited torch for Mr. Spock her entire time on the series). The song Mr. Spock sings to Uhura and Chapel is Maiden Wine, which Nimoy wrote, and is on this album. (Note: this episode was banned in the UK for the sadistic theme, and supposedly was the ‘first inter-racial kiss’ – that is, between a white man – Kirk - and a black woman – Uhura – on US Television). Nimoy also wrote the songs Contact and Piece of Hope on this album.
The New World of Leonard Nimoy was his fifth and final album, in June 1970. It was country on side one, and country-rock and folk on side two. Nimoy wrote The Sun Will Rise from side two.
As I said before, unfortunately, none of these albums have been re-released on CD – but they are still available as pretty darned expensive vinyl LPs! There are now two current compilations of Nimoy’s music on CD (one of which also includes several ‘songs’ by William Shatner), which do have most of his songs on them. But they are NOT the original albums.