A song plays as background music on a television show. It’s catchy, and people watching at home try to find the song. Except it doesn’t seem to exist. Anywhere. As far as the internet is concerned, the song simply does not exist. But it does exist; you can hear it on the show.

It’s a mystery worthy of The X-FilesWhich is fitting, because the show where this curiously non-existent song was played was The X-Files.

Here’s the story, as related in an epic Twitter (fine, X) thread in the last few days by user @laurenancona, who Tweeted (fine, posted) on Monday “just had the weirdest experience. was watching an X-files episode & there’s this country song playing in the background of the bar they’re in & it’s so good it jars me out of my idle multitasking to shazam it except...”

The first tweet ends there, but by all means please listen to this music before continuing, because it really suits the mood very nicely.

Okay, so the except here is that Shazam has no idea what this song is. And then Googling about the song or trying to find out what it is based on the lyrics, only yielded search results about this episode of The X-Files, “Dreamland Part 2.” For decades, it seems, some X-Files fans have fixated on this particular song, which as far as anyone watching can tell, has zero footprint beyond the show.

You can hear the song in question in the tweet below.

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How could a song simply not exist on the internet? Is this song the victim of some mass government conspiracy? Did the Cigarette Smoking Man have the song erased from all records in order to ensure the public never learned of an ongoing alien invasion? How deep does this thing go?!?

Okay, it’s actually not that sinister, or even that unusual, if you know the ins and outs of music rights on television. Sure, TV shows may sometimes use a popular song on its soundtrack. And in other cases, a series may employ a composer or songwriters to create music exclusively for their show.

But in other cases, television producers may simply pay for the rights to what is called “production music” (also sometimes called “library music”) — essentially very generic songs that may be acquired for relatively little money by film and TV makers to use in the shows. If you’ve ever heard the same instrumental song on a bunch of TV shows or YouTube videos, you’ve experienced some production music without even realizing it. Such music wouldn’t necessarily appear on the internet, because in some cases these libraries are old and not necessarily carefully maintained or preserved.

Ah, but wait — there is more. Through the magic of Twitter (sigh, X) @laurenancona’s thread actually reached The X-Files music editor Jeff Charbonneau, who got involved in the hunt for the track. Then, someone else tracked down the cue sheet for this episode.

Finally the name of the song emerged. It’s called “Staring at the Stars, written by Glenn Jordan and Dan Marfisi, songwriters who sometimes provided music for The X-Files.

Then Dan Marfisi caught wind of the whole thing. Apparently a CD backup of the song does exist, and so “Staring at the Stars” will now live on forever.

“We never knew people loved our music so much,” Marfisi tweeted (X’d, blech). “Truly wonderful to find out.”

What a happy ending. Now if someone can explain that black oil stuff to me I’ll be really thrilled.

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