1013 RADIO: Beyond the Sea

In the first of a new series of articles charting the music involved in The X-Files, ‘1013 Radio’, join Carl Sweeney as he goes somewhere… beyond the sea…

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Bobby Darin’s version of ‘Beyond the Sea’ is probably the definitive rendition of a song that has been covered by many diverse artists, from Django Reinhardt to Robbie Williams. It’s a romantic pop song about separated lovers that charted in the top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic for Darin. The song is used memorably in an early episode of The X-Files with the same name.

The episode was written by Glen Morgan and James Wong. Morgan and Wong regularly incorporated different types of music into their scripts for The X-Files, from Bach to Johnny Mathis. Their use of pop music in the early days of the series paved the way for other writers to follow suit later on, though we shouldn’t hold them accountable for Mulder line-dancing to ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ in season 10.

We first hear the song at the funeral of Scully’s father, who died at the beginning of the episode. As his ashes are scattered in the water, Mrs Scully explains that the song had been playing on the day he returned from the Cuban blockade and proposed marriage (this is an example of Morgan and Wong’s fondness for intertwining fiction and 20th century history). Given the lyrical content of the song, this is of course highly appropriate. Bill Scully’s Naval career is central to the way he is represented in The X-Files, as exemplified by the music here and references to Moby Dick in this and other episodes.

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Later, the incarcerated killer Luther Lee Boggs (the fantastic Brad Dourif) unsettles Scully by singing, not very tunefully, a portion of the song to her. Boggs’ knowledge of this, and other personal information, coupled with Scully’s vision of her dead father, are at the centre of a superb character piece. It’s probably the best episode of the first season.

Darin’s music would be used several times in the second season of Millennium, as part of Morgan and Wong’s attempt to humanise Frank Black. There’s one further link to the 1013 universe. Morgan’s brother Darin, who would join The X-Files writing staff in 1994, is reportedly named after the singer.

Interestingly, you may not hear Darin’s ‘Beyond the Sea’ when you watch this episode. His recording is on the UK DVD and Bluray release. When viewed on Amazon Prime though, you’ll hear Charles Trenet’s ‘La Mer’ instead (‘La Mer’ was written in the 1940s and has the same music as ‘Beyond the Sea’ but a different lyrical focus). I’m not sure what the reason for the change is, and whether it’s the same in other territories. I can only assume this is because of a rights issue.

You can follow Carl on Twitter @csweeney758.

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