TWO SIDES OF LEONARD NIMOY
"I am not Spock"... well, maybe part of me is Spock and part of me is Jacques Brel.
The show faces cancellation. DOT faces a multi-album contract. Time to remake and remodel!
In his second venture, Nimoy goes deeper into Star Trek self-parody with "Highly Illogical" and "The Difference Between Us." Somewhere between the recording of the first and second albums, there was a novelty hit called "Desiderata" featuring a reading of the pithy pop-culture beatitude. Nimoy takes up the gauntlet with "Spock Thoughts" suggesting that a certain pointy-eared Vulcan spent at least some of his time reading posters in West Coast head shops.
"Don't forget", Dot reminds us, "He was in Mission Impossible" too!
"Once I Smiled" is simply one of the worst songs ever recorded; obviously inspired by "This Side of Paradise" where Spock ingests some groovy spores and lets it all hang out. "Once I smiled a smile so rare... loved a girl with golden hair... acted like a human boy..."
"Amphibious Assault" is a thinly disguised anti-Vietnam war protest song. To paraphrase the late Walt Kelly, he disguises his anti-government protest so cleverly, you can't really hear it at all.
Side Two features one of the most amazing artifacts ever committed to vinyl: The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins.
This video is from "Malibu U." - Nimoy's episode aired 28 July 1967
Not satisfied with his musical disembowling of the most popular sci-fi series of all time, Mr. Nimoy turned his substantial talents towards the works of an elderly British fantasy literature writer.
In the course of the 2 minutes 18 seconds of horror that follow, not only is the plot of the entire novel given away but Nimoy knowingly lets the listener in on what Bilbo is really smoking in his pipe down in that wacky hobbit-hole. There is also a bassoon solo.
It would take Jimmy Page and Robert Plant years of hard work to come up with worse Tolkien inspired drivel.
Recently unearthed is the long-hidden music video to go along with the song. I don't think Bilbo was the only one puffin' on his pipe.
The Difference Between Us
Once I Smiled
Follow Your Star
The Ballad Of Bilbo Baggins
Gentle On My Mind
If I Were A Carpenter
Love Of The Common People
Click for a closeup of the back cover
The HIT Single
The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins (2:18) b/w Cotton Candy (on a Summer Day) (2:34)
DOT Records Cat. #45-17028
Whoever thought this would spawn a "hit" single?
The Reel-to-Reel version
Rare 4 Track Version
Here is a glimpse into the way it was when these albums came out
Sun, June 23, 1968
Although Leonard Nimoy Is A Star He's Still His Mama's Boy
By Caryl Rivers
Los Angeles Times-West Magazine
Leonard Nimoy's mother - white hair, blue sheath dress, double strand of pearls and black Persian lamb jacket sat on a stool in the housewares department in Lechmere Sales in Cambridge, Mass. Her son, the actor, was ushered past her by a small phalanx of store personnel. A path opened for him into the heart of a milling circle of people and then it closed over him again like the Red Sea swallowing the Pharoh's army.
"He looks tired," his mother said. "He's such a tired boy."
The crowd pressed forward to see her son, one of the stars of the popular science fiction television series, Star Trek. He smiled and autographed copies of his record album, "The Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy."
A man passing by said to a companion, "I never heard of him either, but he sure must be popular."
"We got to get up front, Mike," said a small boy, climbing up on the edge of a potted orange tree and nearly tipping it over.
A store official hollered, "Please, folks, be a little patient! Mr. Nemoy will get to all of you. Let's get a line formed. Right here. Please folks, let's make a line!"
Leonard Nimoy's mother sighed and looked at the crowd. "It's too bad he's such a tired boy. I haven't seen him in my house only once for 10 minutes. I came here to see him." She looked at the crowd. "If I had known, I wouldn't have come."
Earlier, she had brought a dish of kreplach to a television studio where he was appearing. A Jewish mother is vigilant where her son's stomach is concerned.
A small group of middle-aged saleswomen in orange store jackets stood around her. They were mothers, too, and they understood.
"He's a good actor," one of the women said. "It says on the record that he's an actor's actor."
"I knew he was a wonderful boy," his mother said. "He did have a certain ability for public speaking. He behaves himself very nice."
Three graduate students from MIT - nuclear physics and engineering - waited to get Leonard Nimoy's autograph. "Hi, Spock," one of them said, and Nimoy grinned. His alter-ego is Mr. Spock, first officer of the star ship Enterprise and super-cool, pixie-eared, intellectual giant from the planet Vulcan. Mr. Spock disdains human emotions, but Mr. Spock's mother was a human and everybody knows that beneath the frigid exterior, Mr. Spock is a softie just like the rest of us.
On TV, Mr. Spock has superhuman endurance, but in three days of interviews and autograph signing, it was clear Leonard Nimoy did not. At each stop he excused himself and vanished briefly. He tried to catnap in the car between stops while two jovial public relations men from Dot records joked about how they told girls they were his managers.
The car moved along Memorial Drive in Cambridge past Harvard University. Nimoy looked out the window and pointed across the Charles River to what had once been the old west end of Boston, the core of the city's immigrant population. Urban renewal replaced the immigrant families with high-rise apartments.
"Right there, the building with the blue windows, that's where Peabody Playhouse was. That's where I started acting, right there."
At another spot in the road he said, "This is where I learned to drive, right on this strip here."
He was a home town boy who made good. He was back in Boston and everybody wanted to interview him and put him on their television shows. He even had to answer questions sipping a lunchtime martini. He was asked to tell the story again about the time he was driving a cab and he picked up John F. Kennedy.
"That was in 1956. I was just out of the service and I was driving a cab at night in Los Angeles and looking for acting jobs during the day. I got a call to go to the Bel Air Hotel to pick up a Mr. Kennedy. It was a highly political time - right before the convention - and Stevenson and Kefauver were running strong. When I got to the Bel Air I asked the doorman if I was waiting for the Senator from Massachusetts. He said he didn't know. When Kennedy came down the doorman whispered to me, 'Is this guy a Senator?'
"As Kennedy got in the cab I said, 'How are things in Massachusetts, Senator?' He perked up. He said, 'Are you from Massachusetts?' He asked me so many questions - he was very socially-oriented - he asked me why I was in California, where my folks came from, why they came to the United States and what they thought about my being an actor.
"I asked him about Stevenson's chances and he said, 'You meet a lot of people, what do you think?' I asked him what would happen if Stevenson won the nomination and lost the election. He said, 'He'd be finished politically.' That was the one flat statement he made about politics.
"I dropped him at the Beverly Hilton. The fare was $1.25 and he didn't have any cash in his pocket. He went into the hotel and I followed him tagging along for my $1.25. He finally found somebody he knew and he borrowed three dollars and he turned around and handed it to me."
Nimoy took a swallow of his drink. "A few weeks ago it was my wife's birthday and we went to the Bel Air Hotel for a weekend. I walked in and we were swamped with fans. Bellboys, clerks were chasing me for autographs. It was ironic for me when I thought how in 1956 both Kennedy and I were in the hotel and nobody recognized either of us. Not that I'm putting myself in the same category with him, but it's funny what fame and prominence can do."
A waitress came up with two slightly damp napkins. "One to the children and one to Galvin, please G-a-l-v-i-n."
Nimoy signed his hame and while he was writing there was time to notice something about him. He is slighter of build than he looks on television. Mr. Spock always stands ruler-straight. Leonard Nimoy sometimes hunches his shoulders when he walks. He has graceful hands, long and tapered, not feminine, but graceful in a man's way.
His face is full of planes and valleys and crevices that must delight photographers looking for them things. With the Spock haircut he could be a Roman emperor.
Nimoy was born in the west end of Boston, the son of Max Nimoy, a barber. He decided he wanted to be an actor when he was in his teens, but his parents wanted him to be a lawyer or a doctor. He took every drama course he could find at Boston College, and after a hitch in the service he studied at the Pasadena Playhouse.
He joined the rest of the aspiring actors in Los Angeles in search of work. When he picked up John Kennedy in the cab he had a wife and one child and another on the way and he was driving nights and job-hunting days. By 1960 he had earned enough of a reputation as a character actor to give up part-time work at anything else.
"I could see a definite security growing. I could depend on a pretty comfortable income, twelve to thirteen thousand a year. Not fantastic, but not bad.
The Star Trek part was his first continuing series role and it was a steady income. "I hired out pretty cheap."
The mail was the first indication the public was developing an unexpected fondneess for Mr. Spock. There were 35 letters to the network the first week. The second week it doubled. It reached 600 before long and soon the weekly count was up to 2,700 pieces, about 70 percent from women. Spock's part got bigger.
"In most of the shows we were facing some kind of adversary for three acts. In the fourth act Captain Kirk (the hero - played by William Shatner) would say 'I'm going to beam down to the planet surface.' Mr. Spock would say, 'Captain, I request permission to go with you,' and Kirk would answer, 'No, Spock, I need you on the ship.' Then the rest of the fourth act would be Go Shatner, Go!
"When the mail started coming in they began to include me on the trips to the planet. But at first they didn't have time to rewrite the scripts. So I would just stand there and say, 'Look out, captain, watch it!'"
Leonard Nimoy gives a strong impression of a man to whom success is becoming. He has the subtle, confident-but-not-cocky air of a man who has made it, but knows how it is not to have made it. If the lean years pulled threadbare places in his ego, they do not show. If there are inner drives churning like pistons inside him, these also do not show. Leonard Nimoy seems content with himself, with his todays and with what his tomorrows will bring. He does not seem complacent, just content.
This is not altogether surprising, as those sales ladies with Leonard Nimoy's mother found out that day he was giving out autographs at Lechmere's in Cambridge. One of them, concerned because people were pressing other things besides Leonard Nimoy record albums into his hand for autographing, started to protest.
"People are coming up with pieces of paper," she said. "They're supposed to bring records. He shouldn't sign just paper."
"No, that's his way," said his mother. "????? that good. Besides, maybe some people are poor and can't afford a record."
Leonard's Record Page