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Fathoms Below

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Fathoms Below
Originally performed by
Composer Alan Menken
Lyrics Howard Ashman
Performer(s) Ship's Chorus
Films The Little Mermaid
Shows
Attractions The Little Mermaid (musical)
Video games
Albums The Little Mermaid - An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack
Preceded by
Followed by Daughters of King Triton
Video

"Fathoms Below" is the first song heard in Disney's 1989 feature film, The Little Mermaid. It was written by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken. It introduces the film and the legend of the merfolk from the perspective of sailors reciting to Prince Eric.

Lyrics

I'll tell you a tale of the bottomless blue
And it's hey to the starboard, heave ho
Look out, lad, a mermaid be waiting for you
In mysterious fathoms below
Heave ho
Heave ho
Heave ho
Heave ho
Heave ho
In mysterious fathoms below

Soundtrack Lyrics

In the soundtrack, an extra set of lyrics were added in, to fill in the gap where Eric was talking with the sailors.

Fathoms Below! (x2)
From whence wayward westerlies blow!
Where Triton is King,
and his Merpeople sing,
in mysterious Fathoms Below.

Original Lyrics

Howard and Alan's Demo

This version of the song is the original demo made by Alan and Howard; it is the second longest version of the song, just behind the Broadway version. It takes place during a small storm as the sailors merrily sing during it. At one point, a sailor points out a big storm in the distance, and claims that's what happens when King Triton is angry.

I'll tell you a tale of the bottomless blue,
and it's hey to the starboard heave ho!
Great sailor beware for the biggun's a brewin'
in mysterious Fathoms Below!
Heave ho! (x2)

I'll sing you a song of the King of the sea, 
and it's hey to the starboard heave ho!
The ruler of all of the ocean is he,
in mysterious fathoms below!
Fathoms below!
Below!
From whence wayward westerlies blow!
Where Triton is king,
and his merpeople sing,
in mysterious fathoms below!
Heave ho (x6)

I'll tell you a tale of the bottomless blue,
and it's hey to the starboard heave ho!
Look out lad a mermaid be waiting for you,
in mysterious fathoms below!

The King of the ocean is angry,
so trouble's-a-brewin' out there!
I'm telling ya lad,
When King Triton is mad, 
how the waves will rock,
rock to and fro.
Hold on,
good luck, 
as down you go!
For Triton is king of the bottomless blue,
and it's hey to the starboard heave ho!
Beware of the magic as merpeople do,
in mysterious fathoms below!

Storyboarded Version

Servenfuirdaughters

In the storyboarded version the lyrics have once again changed, this time adding an explanation to the backstory of Ursula the sea witch, and revealing that she is King Triton's sister.

The reason why this song was cut down to the final version was becasue the directors wanted to get into the story sooner.


1st stanza:

I'll tell you a tale of the bottomless blue, 
and it's hey to the starboard, heave ho!
Look out lad a mermaid be waiting for you in mysterious Fathoms Below!


2nd stanza:

I'll sing you a song of the king of the sea,
and it's hey to the starboard, heave ho.
The ruler of all of the ocean is he, in mysterious fathoms below!


3rd stanza:

Old man:

Fathoms below in the ocean, 
lives Ursula, witch of the sea!
She plots,
and she schemes,
and she wickedly dreams,
of the day that she'll return once more.
Return to rule the ocean floor!

Sailors:

She wants to be queen of the bottomless blue,
and it's hey to the starboard heave ho!
So Triton beware, 'cause a biggun's a brewin',
in mysterious fathoms below!

Comic Adaptation Lyrics

The comic adapted Fathoms below with an entirely new set of lyrics only seen in this adaptation.

Come listen to a story of the ocean blue.
Beneath the sea.
Near the ocean floor.
Live the merpeople in a wondrous world below!

Broadway Version

The Broadway version of Fathoms Below takes a page of lyrics from the original song which Howard and Alan recorded, but managed to squeeze in extra lyrics where both Eric and Grimsby sang.

The scene opens with the crew tending to their duties on their ship, as they sing about those Fathoms Below.

Erics-Ship-the-little-mermaid-on-broadway-18887126-1136-852

The broadway crew singing.

I'll tell you a tale of the bottomless blue
An' it's hey to the starboard, heave ho!
Brave sailor, beware, 'cause a big 'uns a-brewin'
Mysterious fathoms below!
Heave ho! Heave ho!

I'll sing you a song of the king of the sea
An' it's hey to the starboard, heave ho!
The ruler of all of the oceans is he
In mysterious fathoms below!

Fathoms below, below!
From whence wayward westerlies blow!
Where Triton is king
And his merpeople sing
In mysterious fathoms below!

Shortly after, Eric joins in on the song.

PRINCE ERIC 
That topsail, open her wide
Break the bounds quickly! Starboard side

PRINCE ERIC

Isn't this perfection, Grimsby? Out on the open sea, surrounded by nothing but water.

GRIMSBY

Oh yes, it's simply... delightful!

PRINCE ERIC 
The salt on your skin
And the wind in your hair
And the waves as they ebb and they flow!
We’re miles from the shore
And guess what – I don’t care!

GRIMSBY

As for me, I’m about to heave ho!

PILOT

Back to work!

I’ll sing you a song of the king of the sea
An’ it’s hey to the starboard, heave ho!
The ruler of all of the oceans is he
In mysterious fathoms below!

Fathoms below, below!
From whence wayward westerlies blow!
Where Triton is king
And his merpeople sing
In mysterious fathoms below!

The crew then begins to recite a song of King Triton, whom Grimsby states is nothing but superstition, while the crew says otherwise.

GRIMSBY

King of the sea? Why, that's nautical nonsense – nothing but a superstition!

I once knew a man met a mermaid,
She stole first his heart, then his mind,
And once it was got,
She just left him to rot,
And she wasn't the worst of her kind...

The king of the ocean gets angry
An’ when he gets angry, beware!
I’m tellin’ ya, lad, when King Triton is mad
How the waves’ll buck, rock to and fro!
Hold on, good luck, as down you go!

For Triton is king of the bottomless blue,
and it's hey to the starboard heave ho!
Beware of the magic his merpeople do,
in mysterious fathoms below!

Eric then hears a beautiful singing off in the distance. Grimsby then explains to him that he must return to court to claim his crown.

PRINCE ERIC

What is that? Do you hear something?

GRIMSBY

Milord, please. Enough sea-faring! You've got to get back to court to honor your fathers dying wish and take up the crown!

PRINCE ERIC

That's not the life for me, Grimsby!

PRINCE ERIC 
This is where I belong,
Ev'rything seems more real here,
Strange how at home I feel here,
In the tide's swift flow!
And when the pull is strong,
I almost think I hear the sea,
Wild and free,
Calling me from fathoms below!

PRINCE ERIC

There it is again!

PILOT

We ought to head back to shore, your majesty.

GRIMSBY

Indeed, we should!

PRINCE ERIC

Not while I'm captain. Now follow that voice! To the ends of the earth, if we have to!

PILOT

Aye-aye, Captain!

Grimsby and the shipmen suggest returning to shore, but Eric refuses to listen and instead chooses to pursue the singing voice while the crew sing one last verse of warning to Eric.

There’s mermaids out there in the bottomless blue
An’ it’s hey to the starboard, heave ho!
Watch out for ‘em, lad, or you’ll go to your ruin
in mysterious fathoms below!


Littlemermaidtitle

Media
Films: The Little Mermaid | The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea | The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning
Television: TV Series (Episode List) | House of Mouse | Once Upon a Time
Music: Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack | Musical
Video Games: NES game | Sega Genesis Game | Ariel's Story Studio | Kingdom Hearts | Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories | Kingdom Hearts II | The Little Mermaid 2: Pinball Frenzy | Disney's The Little Mermaid: Magic in Two Kingdoms
Books: Official Comic Adaptation | Marvel Comics| Disney Comics

Disney Parks: Voyage of the Little Mermaid | Mermaid Lagoon | The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure | King Triton's Carousel of the Sea | Ariel's Grotto | Mickey's PhilharMagic | Fantasmic! | Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom | World of Color | Disney Dreams! | Celebrate the Magic | Flounder's Flying Fish Coaster | Scuttle's Scooters

Characters
Original: Ariel | Flounder | Sebastian | Scuttle | Prince Eric | King Triton | Ursula/Vanessa | Flotsam and Jetsam | Attina | Alana | Adella | Aquata | Arista | Andrina | Max | Grimsby | Carlotta | Chef Louis | Ursula's Garden | Glut | The Seahorse Herald | Harold | Merpeople
Sequel Characters: Melody | Tip and Dash | Morgana | Cloak and Dagger | Undertow | Flounder's guppies | Baby Penguin | Ursula and Morgana's mother
Prequel Characters: Queen Athena | Marina Del Rey | Benjamin | Shelbow | Ink Spot | Cheeks | Ray-Ray | Stevie | Electric Eels
TV Series Characters: Urchin | Gabriella | Ollie | Dudley | Pearl | The Evil Manta | Little Evil | Dr. Vile | Daniel | Moray | Simon | Lobster Mobster and Da Shrimp | The Sorceress | Glowfish | Ebb and Flo | Emperor Sharga | Octopid | Brain Sponge | Zeus | Spot the Killer Whale | Crab Scouts | Hans Christian Andersen | Stormy the Giant Seahorse

Objects: Prince Eric's statue | Trident | Ursula's Cauldron | Ursula's Necklace | Melody's locket | Queen Athena's music box | Dinglehopper

Locations: Atlantica | Ariel's Secret Grotto | Ursula's Lair | Prince Eric's Castle | The Wedding Ship | Morgana's Ice Cave

Songs
Film Songs: Fathoms Below | Daughters of King Triton | Part of Your World/(Reprise)/(Finale) | Under the Sea | Poor Unfortunate Souls/(Reprise) | Les Poissons | Kiss the Girl | Down to the Sea | For A Moment | Tip and Dash (song) | Here On The Land and Sea | Just One Mistake | I Remember
TV Series Songs: Just a Little Love | You Got to be You | The Edge of the Edge of the Sea | The Lobster Mobster's Mob | The Beddy Bye Blues | Sing a New Song | In Harmony | This is the Life | You Know I Know | Never Give Up | You Wouldn't Want to Mess With Me | The Sound of Laughter | Daring to Dance | Just Give Me a Chance | Just Like Me | Evil Lullaby
Musical Songs: She's In Love | Human Stuff | Positoovity | I Want the Good Times Back | Her Voice | The World Above | The Contest | If Only (Quartet) | Beyond My Wildest Dreams | Sweet Child | One Step Closer

Other: Disney Sing Along Songs: Under the Sea | The Disney Afternoon

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