-- William Shatner takes a previously uncharted musical journey on Ponder the Mystery, a progressive-rock concept album that the beloved Star Trek actor co-wrote with ex-Yes member Billy Sherwood. Sherwood, who produced and composed all the music for the record, helped gather an impressive list of famous musicians to lend their talents to the project, including The Doors' Robby Krieger, Foreigner's Mick Jones, former Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman, Edgar Winter, Steve Vai, Al DiMeola, the late George Duke and country star Vince Gill.
Ponder the Mystery showcases Shatner's theatrical spoken-word talents as he tells the existential story of a depressed man who, over the course of a late afternoon and evening, tries to find meaning in his life. The 82-year-old actor tells ABC News Radio that he formulated the theme of the album as a device to help him write lyrics for the project.
"I needed a scenario to find the hooks for the songs," he explains. The actor adds that he imagined "a guy sitting on the beach. He's in despair. It's an hour before sunset. The sun sets. Night begins and then, through the beauty of the night, he regains his joy of life."
Shatner notes that among the thematic elements he incorporated into his lyrics were despair, twilight, the sounds of the night and the nature of time. He says the concept inspired him enough that he was able "to extract enough material" for the album. He then sent his words to Sherwood, who put them to music.
Shatner says Ponder the Mystery is "a lovely album," while praising Sherwood's compositional abilities. He credits the veteran progressive rocker for bringing a stylistic cohesiveness to the music, which at times is reminiscent of classic Yes or Genesis.
At time same time, Shatner notes that the various guest artists help give "a distinctive sound to each of the songs."
He adds, "If it were nothing else but these guys playing on this album, the album's worthwhile picking up -- because of the extraordinary musicianship that these guys bring. I'm delighted with them."
Over the next few days, Shatner will team up with the Sherwood-led band Circa, which also features founding Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye, to perform Ponder the Mystery in its entirety at three different Los Angeles-area clubs. He admits that depending on how the concerts go, he'll decide whether or not to take the show on the road.
"If you guys in the audience like it then we have a life," he declares. "If you don't like it we have to get a life."
Shatner's Ponder the Mystery performances are scheduled for tonight in Hermosa Beach, Wednesday in Agoura and Thursday in San Juan Capistrano.
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