Musical Inspirations of Star Trek: Coda
No one has shown the least bit of interest in guessing at the inspirations/connections between my recent novel Star Trek: Coda, Book III – Oblivion’s Gate and its hand-curated Spotify playlist. I am, therefore, going to blather on about it anyway.
But before I dig into the tracks on the public Spotify playlist, I want to share an unreleased track that, for me, has been the unofficial “theme song” of the Star Trek: Coda trilogy: “Cue the Violins,” by my pal Friday’s Child front man Tom Walker.
Now, onward to the Spotify playlist tracks. Leading us off is “Goodnight, Saigon” by Billy Joel. For me this song served as a tribute to all of the story’s redshirts and other characters slain in the line of duty (or as collateral damage).
Entry two on the playlist should be easy to understand: “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Blue Öyster Cult alludes, obviously, to the story’s main villains and their engineered temporal apocalypse.
Now we get into the character-specific inspirations on the playlist: “Against the Wind” by Bob Seger felt like a great summary of the life of middle-aged Traveler Wesley Crusher, reflecting on centuries of chasing an unknown enemy.
Next up is Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game,” which for me evokes Worf’s angst and conflicting emotions over meeting an alternate K’Ehleyr in the Mirror Universe in Oblivion’s Gate.
Continuing the playlist is Dire Straits’ “Brothers in Arms,” which for me feels like a perfect distillation of Benjamin Sisko’s spiritual journey in this heartbreaking trilogy.
“Life is a Long Song” by Jethro Tull, for me, captures the optimism and kindness of spirit of Geordi La Forge, as well as the sadness of dying in one’s prime.
“Hurt” by Johnny Cash brings a more somber note to the playlist. In this context, its lyrics feel to me like an eerie commentary on the story of the time-madness-stricken Admiral William Riker, and his desperate plea to his wife Deanna Troi.
Feel-good music? Not for this trilogy (not yet, anyway). Next up is “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas, which on the Star Trek: Coda playlist is meant to evoke the deep despair felt by Vedek Kira over the terrible sacrifices she has been compelled to make.
Ramping up the drama and tragedy of the playlist is Queen & Michael Kamen’s iconic ballad from Highlander, “Who Wants to Live Forever? (Heather’s Demise)”. For me, this is the theme of Mirror K’Ehleyr’s story, including its heroic/tragic end.
Have courage. We’re almost done. “Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce felt like a great song to represent the sort of timeless POV of the functionally immortal androids Data Soong and his resurrected daughter Lal.
The most inspirational song on the Star Trek: Coda playlist is “The Garden” by Rush. It set the tone for Chapter 40, and it established themes & motifs throughout Oblivion’s Gate, which is meant as an homage to the late Neil Peart.
Oblivion’s Gate ends on an epilogue that I call a “Grace Note.” Its title is “What Remains to Be Seen,” an allusion to a lyric from “The Garden” — “Hope is what remains to be seen.”
The Grace Note of Oblivion’s Gate, which occurs on the date of Star Trek‘s 1966 TV premiere, on W. 136th St. in Harlem (“Far Beyond the Stars” was the 136th episode of DS9) is represented by Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.”
Finally, if a novel trilogy could have ironic end-credits music, Star Trek: Coda would conclude with a hat-tip to the franchise’s newly expanding canon, with “(Just Like) Starting Over” by the great John Lennon.
Postscript: If you’re just looking for suitable background music for reading, check out my Star Trek: Coda – Reading Music playlist on Spotify.