You might say that Alexander Courage was something like the Fifth Beatle of Star Trek. Or at least his theme music for the original Star Trek was. Even when Sarcasm Girl was very very tiny and the first few notes of the theme (glockenspiel, flute and oboe, the Spouse says) would come on (and this was for Next Generation, which would then go off into its own theme music), the kid would bounce up and down and say “Mama, mama! Captain! Space! Final frontier!” The eight note brass fanfare that was used to introduce scenes on the original series has that same effect: immediately you’re there, with the cheesy special effects, the scenery chewing–and also, the hope that mankind could get its shit together and go out into the universe to make friends with strange new civilizations.*
A lot of that had to do with Courage’s theme, which was both swaggering and yearning, very much rooted in that time in our history when Americans had been asked to consider what we could do for our country (or species). Courage, who died last week, had a long career in film and TV, and Star Trek was only a tiny part of it. But it’s the part that will always be, for some of us, the soundtrack of space exploration and mankind boldly trying to use its power for good.
*Or at least check out their women.