He wrote the lyrics, never intending to use them, in order to earn half of the theme music’s syndication royalties.
You may not have been aware that there are lyrics for the original Star Trek theme music. That’s because the show only ever included the instrumental version of the theme.
According to Mental Floss, Gene Roddenberry was motivated to write the lyrics for the song because the composer’s contract stipulated that royalties would be paid out every time the show airs in syndication. Those royalties would be shared between the composer and the writer of the lyrics.
In Courage’s contract it was stipulated that, as the composer, he would receive royalties every time the show was aired and the theme song played. If, somehow, Star Trek made it into syndication—which, of course, it ultimately did—Courage stood to make a lot of money. And so did the person who wrote the lyrics.
Roddenberry chose to include only the instrumental theme when the show aired, but didn’t seem to matter from a contractual standpoint. Composer Alexander Courage was understandable pretty unhappy with the situation. It’s safe to assume, I would think, that he was a little more careful in crafting future syndication royalty contracts.
What are the lyrics?
We thought you’d never ask. Here they are in all their space-faring glory (per Snopes).
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.
Can I hear Tenacious D perform this song?
Yes, you sure can. Enjoy their appearance on the Nerdist podcast below!