I read today that William Shatner (aka Captain Kirk) released an album of spoken-word cover tunes on October 11, 2011 which happens to include Bohemian Rhapsody.
“Happens to include” probably isn’t an accurate description of why the song is on there. Apparently, Shatner was inspired to write a “space opera” about what happened to Major Tom, the fictional song character first made famous by David Bowie in the early 70s and a decade later by Peter Schilling. He compiled a collection of mostly space-themed songs whose lyrics he felt told a story of what happened to Major Tom since we last heard. Did he find heaven? Hell? Is he floating around in space?
A full description of Shatner’s motivation on making the album and how Bohemian Rhapsody was part of it can be found in this two-part YouTube interview:
It’s an interesting idea, Bill. The fact that Bohemian Rhapsody was on your radar highlights your ability to weave seemingly disparate song lyrics into an overall story.
I’m a bit confused, however, about when he knew about Bohemian Rhapsody at all. I’ve found conflicting accounts of this. This article states that Shatner had never heard or heard of the song before. This one claims he not only knew of the song but pushed to have it on the album.
Whatever the case, Shatner decided that if he could pull off BoRhap the way he was envisioning, then covering the other space-themed tunes would be a piece of cake. Apparently, BoRhap went better than he and producer Adam Hamilton thought it would, so they polished off the whole album and released it to the masses a couple of days ago.
If you haven’t heard Shatner’s recording of the song, here’s a link to the official video on YouTube video of it.
As an aside, I had personally crossed paths with William Shatner back in 1988 when he was here in Calgary for the Winter Olympics. There was a celebrity event being held at one of the featured ski hills so my friend and I decided to head out for some brushes with fame. As we were standing on a patio watching skiers walk past us and back to the ski lift, Captain Kirk and Brooke Shields happened to walk by.
With my old 35MM camera, I took aim at the two of them who were no more than ten feet away from me. I managed to get two shots before Brooke’s hair got caught in the binding of one of the skis she had slung over her shoulder. I raised my camera again as Shatner and another skier were trying to untangle her hair. Shatner noticed me aiming at them at that moment and politely called out for me to not take the shot.
At the time, I thought he was just being difficult which I had heard he can be with the public, but with more than 20 years of reflection on this moment, I now think he was just trying to protect Brooke from being immortalized in a compromising moment.
Fair enough, Bill.
Fair enough, Bill.