Parody of “Mal's Song”, words and music by Michelle Dockrey and Joss Whedon

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Parody lyrics ©2024-04-20 by Bob Kanefsky. All rights reserved. The copyright of the original lyrics and music remain with the holder(s) of the original copyright.

When the stars glint red on the lightsail’s back 
And you must leave your lover on Earth behind,
When the speed’s near c and the years fly past,
Well, you know what happened in ’39. 

There are friends and family you never will see.
There are youthful sailors ready to explore. 
There are stars that call with a deepening blue.
And she may have died by the end of your tour

While you’re nearly young as you were before. 
So he thought, until his lightsail tore. 

Chorus: So take my coat. Take my arm.
Take my word I mean no harm. 
I know you’ve waited patiently
But can’t you tell your guy from me?

Take me for your ex in space?
We all aged at a normal pace.
I’m 25, he’s 63.
Can’t you tell your guy from me?
Can’t you tell your guy from me?

Now, with a film so thin and an acre across
Well, you might think lightsails make a fragile barque. 
But so many a ship made shorter trips,
It seemed safe to sail through the emptiest dark.

But a nova jet or an asteroid hit
Must have struck our sail and torn it through.
Ah, but salvaged shreds of it just got us back,
While our food and clothes hydroponically grew. 

Took almost thirty years to do
With a clever, ever-growing crew.


When he’s headed home and his dream has been dashed,
The most faithful man may get bored on board.
He hooked up, romanced, remarried and tricked,
He philandered, flirted, partied and whored. 

There are babies born when a condom supply
Meant to last a year can’t stretch out for two. 
Though the facts aren’t taught to the innocent souls,
Only fools don’t know that their family’s their crew. 

If I look a bit like him to you,
I suppose that’s what space captains do!


Convoluted credits: This is Bob Kanefsky’s mashup of “Lightsailor” by Barry Childs-Helton with “Mal’s Song” (verses by Michelle Dockrey around chorus by Joss Whedon), with allusions to “’39” by Brian May and maybe “Starship Unity”, Anne Passovoy’s filk parody of “Johnny Be Fair”.
AFTERWORD: The theory that the woman at first thinks that the “strange young man” might be her spacefaring lost love is not original with me, but is based on comments I recall the author of “Lightsailor” himself making in introducing the song and also in a brief one-on-one conversation at OVFF once. (I don’t think it’s the only valid interpretation of the words he actually wrote, because what does “strange” mean if not “unfamiliar to her, someone she had never seen”? The only other sense would be “unsettlingly odd in behavior or appearance”, which would be an odd thing for a song to mention without elaborating on.) I recall Barry saying he was inspired by old stories of sailors and their loved ones back home carrying tokens to help them identify each other when time has made them hard to recognize, and that perhaps this woman, expecting her boyfriend to return still young, at first thinks the man approaching her is him. But I’ve always thought recognition would be less of a problem for her than is traditional, if she has memories, let alone, photos of him when he was about the same age. So I wondered if he might resemble her lost love, and started extrapolating from his offhand comment “I was born in space” and that resemblance, and where the implications of that, plus the pattern of the lyrics of “Mal’s Song”, led me. People sometimes don’t notice their own family resemblance until an outsider points it out, and I would interpret the end of my parody to mean that he’s just realized that the man he just called “our captain” might be his father but isn’t a bit surprised.