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Spock sees clouds from both sides now

Last night I was half-listening to a 1974 recording of Joni Mitchell singing "Both Sides Now" when something grabbed my full attention: she'd begun talking about an episode of Star Trek. At the link below, you can hear Mitchell launch into a seemingly spontaneous, impassioned monologue after the first chorus: "Did you ever used to watch that show called Star Trek? I just had a flash of this show, that I saw while I was singing this tune. It was the only show where Dr. Spock ever got any emotion, right? You remember that one? It was really great because... well, for those of you who never saw it, anyway, the premise is this: they're supposed to go and rescue an agricultural colony that's on some planet. They've been there for a while, they took some horses and they took some grain, they took a lot of that stuff, and they were going to experiment up there, maybe as an alternative planet, you know? When we mess this planet up too bad we'll have to go some place, right?

"So they were up there working kind of scientifically and all of a sudden, a message comes to Dr. Spock and the Star Trekkers that this planet is being bombarded by some kind of rays which are, uh, not very good for any kind of animal, vegetable... they're okay for mineral that's it--mineral life can live. So, it's getting bombarded so they all go down to check it out. First thing they notice is that there are no insects around, then they notice there are no animals around. And just when they're about ready to say that there are no people around, they discover this colony of people in the euphoric state, and not only that, when the doctor checks them out, every uh... history of any kind of disease that they've had, including things like appendectomies, has all disappeared, right? And they're in perfect heath. Well, what happens is, the reason Dr. Spock suddenly becomes a compassionate-feeling creature is 'cause one day with the youngest and the prettiest member of the scientific team, of course, he's walking through a field and he comes upon a whole kind of row of sunflower-looking creatures. And as he's walking through these sunflower-looking creatures, one of them explodes and shoots things all over him and then you see Dr. Spock lying down on the ground and looking up at the clouds--that's what made me think of this. He said to her, 'Wow! I never looked at clouds like that before.' He said, "There's a dinosaur up there, there's..." Then he turned to this girl and he said, 'I love you.' Meantime, his little radio is going 'bleep bleep bleep' and he's supposed to get back to the ship and you know what he does? He shuts it off."

Mitchell sounds giddy, and the audience at Temple University's Ambler Campus sounds absolutely thrilled. And we, perhaps, will never hear the song in quite the same way. Very little is lost, but something's gained. Listen, she sings of love so sweet:


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