Spend time with the two sides of Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy was born on March 26, 1931, and I am commemorating his birthday by listening to Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy — and you can too. All the tracks are playable below.

Nimoy reflected on Spock and on his own view of the world in this 1968 album. The theme of the LP is described on the back of the record sleeve: 

Ever since Gene Roddenberry and his Norway Corp. created the series “Star Trek” for Desilu, Leonard Nimoy has developed a distinctive second personality. He now spends half of his life as “Mr. Spock,” the highly logical, unemotional, intelligent and super-efficient first officer aboard the Starship Enterprise. The original Nimoy is the talented, experienced actor who has played many TV and movie roles, and who is called by his friends an “Actors’ actor.” Nimoy is also proving himself a most capable singer and entertainer in his personal appearances throughout the country. In this album, Leonard Nimoy offers musical versions of his “two sides.”

The back cover of the album features a track list and a large photo of Nimoy.

The description “a most capable singer” may ring a little thin to modern ears, as much of the music is not terribly impressive, but the insights into Nimoy and his thoughts on Spock are worth exploring. The album is a precursor to his self-reflective musings in the books I Am Not Spock and I Am Spock.

The idea here is that side one is Spock speaking and side two comes from Nimoy. 

Here is side one:

Highly Illogical

The Difference Between Us

Once I Smiled

Spock Thoughts

By Myself

Follow Your Star

Amphibious Assault

The album opens with a lighthearted (and somewhat sexist) take on humanity called Highly Illogical. Next is The Difference Between Us, which really sounds like it’s about Droxine in The Cloud Minders, except that the album was released six months before even that episode’s story outline was penned. The lyrics include:

If you could live for just a moment in my world, 

and recognize what makes me what I am, 

perhaps that would the catalyst be, 

to harmonize the differences between you and me.

Similarly, listen to Once I Smiled and just try not to think of Leila Kalomi as Nimoy sings “Once I smiled a smile so rare, Loved a girl with golden hair” and even references that the singer “swung from trees.” 

A scene from the Star Trek episode This Side of Paradise, in which Spock is hanging from a tree and grinning at his girlfriend, Leila Kalomi.

Another highlight of side one is Spock Thoughts, but I was disappointed to learn it is not original to the album. The track is a slightly modified version of the poem Desiderata by Max Ehrmann. Some of it applies well to the Spock character, some not as well. Here are three sections.

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. 

Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant, they too have their story. 

Be at peace with god, whatever you conceive him to be.

Here is side two:

The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins

Cotton Candy

Gentle on my Mind


If I Were a Carpenter

Love of the Common People

The cover of the book The Musical Touch o Leonard Nimoy.

And, it must be said, some songs are quite awful. Cotton Candy, on side two, is painful. It is, however, notable as it was apparently written by Star Trek camera operator Cliff Ralke. That is a cool bit of obscure trivia. He is not credited by name on the album, which states only that the song was “written by one of the camera crew on the Star Trek series,” but a few sources, including a great little book called The Musical Touch of Leonard Nimoy, lists him as the writer. And he had a track record with Trek music, as the liner notes for William Shatner’s 1968 album The Transformed Man state Ralke encouraged Shatner to record the album.

One highlight on side two is Love of the Common People. The song has been performed by many artists, including Paul Young, Waylon Jennings, John Denver, The Everly Brothers, and Bruce Springsteen, and Nimoy’s version is quite good. The lyrics are about poverty and hunger but most versions present it with an upbeat tempo, as did Nimoy. 

And then there is the famous — or infamous — The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins. The album explains: “Long an admirer of the ‘Hobbits,’ Nimoy sings of the adventures of the bravest Hobbit of them all.”

Honestly, this track alone is worth the price of admission, especially if you also watch the music video Nimoy made. I have never seen a high-res version; here is the best I can find.

And, once you have enjoyed the musical stylings of Two Sides, watch the actor briefly discuss his recording career at Fan Expo in Toronto in 2009.

You have to respect that Nimoy, like Shatner, was an accomplished actor who decided, what the hell, I’ll make some albums too. And we all benefit from that willingness to trade the safe confines of a TV soundstage for the unknown frontiers of a recording studio.

Happy birthday, Leonard.

2 responses to “Spend time with the two sides of Leonard Nimoy”

  1. Hi again. First, you’ve got an excellent photo of the album cover.

    Your arrangement of the songs is a bit confusing; I would suggest you put the title of the songs closer to the player part.

    I don’t hear why you say that Highly Illogical is “somewhat sexist”. And if you want to know, I think the most bizarre things in the universe are humans.

    And I also thought that Spock Thoughts was done by Nimoy, I thought I saw that it was in the credits. But I look now, and find that on the actual disc, it is credited to Roddenberry-Grean (I have all the albums). Also, I thought it was illegal to “slightly modify” someone’s literary work? Isn’t that plagiarism?
    But I never much did like Spock Thoughts. And I have my own version, a parody, in my website inside of “From The Mind of…”, intitled; “Gary Thoughts”.

    I also have my own version for “I Search For Tomorrow” that was done by Paul Evans and Paul Parnes on Nimoy’s album “The Touch of Leonard Nimoy”, in my other website: http://WWW.The64YearOldVirgin.COM.

    They didn’t have a clue as to how to make The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins video. And I would say that had much to do with Nimoy not doing videos. But obviously the version you have here was modified many years later, seeing that it has clips of Peter Jackson’s movie in it. One very strange thing I found about Peter, is that he loves monsters, but a cricket very much frightened him!

    But I must defend Cotton Candy, it’s one of his best ever songs, but as I indicated above, humans can see things very strangely. He sang it very well, but it might have had more substantial Lyrics. And it was credited to Cliff Ralke on the disc.

    Some of these songs brings tears to my eyes: It’s been a very long time that this music has been in my life.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: