Fathoms Below

movie version . demo version . deleted scene version . work tape version . broadway version

Fathoms Below: Movie Version

This is the opening song for The Little Mermaid, and as with most other animated movie opening songs, is brief but sets the tone of the movie. Sung by the sailors aboard Eric's ship as they venture the seas, and it's nice way to contrast the cynicism/superstition of the human world with the mystique of the merworld. The middle verse of the following lyrics cannot be heard in the movie, but is present in the soundtrack.

(printable version)

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

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

Below, below
Mysterious fathoms below

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Fathoms Below: Demo Verson

This is an early demo version of Fathoms Below, as can be found in The Music Behind the Magic album, which features more verses than the final, compact version. Thanks to Mariah for sending this info!

(printable version)

Sailors:
Heave-ho, heave-ho
I'll tell you a tale of the bottomless blue
And it's hey to the starboard, heave-ho
Brave sailor beware, for a big 'un's a-brewin'
Mysterious fathoms below

Heave-ho, heave-ho
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

Eric:
Isn't this great?

Grimsby:
Oh yes, delightful.

Eric:
The salty sea air, the wind blowing in your face, I love it!

Grimsby:
You love it? I'm about to heave-ho myself!

Sailors:
Heave-ho, heave-ho
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

Grimsby:
Eric, please! Get your royal keister down from there!

Eric:
Oh, Grim, nothing's going to... Woah!

Grimsby:
Eric, Eric! It is not at all princely... Oh, I loathe storms!

Sailor:
Ha! This ain't no storm. That's a storm! Way out there...
The king of the ocean is angry
So trouble's a-brewin' out there
I'm tellin' you, lad, when King Triton is mad
How the waves'll buck, rock to and fro
Hold on, good luck, as down you go

Sailors:
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
Heave-ho, heave-ho

Eric:
Who are they singing about, sailor? Who is King Triton?

Sailor:
Why, ruler of the merpeople, lad! And a powerful lord is he!

Eric:
The merpeople?

Sailor:
Aye, and they's lives down there, with the bodies of fish and the rest of 'em human! Yes, it's what fifty years at sea will do to you. Make fun of yer like! But I seen 'em! Blast!

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Fathoms Below: Deleted Scene

This is another early version of Fathoms Below, featured as an extra in the 2006 Platinum Edition DVD. In this version there's more exposition from the sailors, who know quite a bit about Triton. This version also keeps the detail that Ursula is Triton's sister, which didn't end up in the final film.

Sailors:
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

Eric:
Ah, isn't this great? The salty sea air, the wind blowing in your face. Perfect day to be at sea.

Grimsby:
Yeah, delightful.

Sailor 1:
A fine, strong wind and a following sea! King Triton must be in a friendly-type mood.

Eric:
King Triton?

Sailor 2:
Why, ruler of the merpeople, lad. Thought every good sailor knew about him.

Sailors:
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

Grimsby:
Merpeople. Eric, pay no attention to this nautical nonsense.

Sailor 2:
But it ain't nonsense, it's the truth. There's a whole world of merpeople under the sea.

Sailor 3:
King Triton's their ruler.

Sailor 1:
He's got seven fair daughters.

Sailor 4:
And a witch of a sister named Ursula.

Eric:
Ursula?

Sailor 4:
Evil and ugly and hungry for power. King Triton, he banished her off into exile, and there she lives now, just biding her time.

Fathoms below in the ocean
Lives Ursula, witch of the sea
She plots and she schemes and she wickedly dreams
Of the day when she'll return once more

Sailors:
Return to rule the ocean floor

She wants to be queen of the bottomless blue
And it's hey to the starboard, heave-ho
So Triton beware there's a biggun a-brewin'
In mysterious fathoms below

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Fathoms Below: Worktape Version

This early work tape version of Fathoms Below was featured in the Legacy Collection album. It's similar to the Deleted Scene version above, but features the vocals of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. I love the energy of this version, especially towards the end.

Sailors:
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

Eric:
Isn't this great? The salty sea air, the wind blowing in your face. A perfect day to be at sea.

Sailor:
Ay, that it is, lad.

Grimsby:
Mmm yes, delightful.

Sailor:
A fine, strong wind and a good, clear sky! King Triton must be in a friendly-type mood.

Eric:
King Triton?

Sailor 2:
Why, ruler of the merpeople, lad. Thought every good sailor knew all about him.

Sailors:
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 oceans is he
In mysterious fathoms below

Grimsby:
Merpeople. Eric, pay no attention to this nautical nonsense.

Sailor:
But it isn't nonsense, it's the truth. There's a whole world of merpeople under the sea.

Sailor:
King Triton's their ruler.

Sailor:
He's got seven fair daughters.

Sailor:
And a witch of a sister named Ursula.

Eric:
Ursula?

Sailor:
Evil and ugly and hungry for power. King Triton, he banished her off into exile, and there she lives now, just biding her time.

Fathoms below in the ocean
Lives Ursula, witch of the sea
She plots and she schemes and she wickedly dreams
Of the day when she'll return once more

Sailors:
Return to rule the ocean floor

She wants to be queen of the bottomless blue
And it's hey to the starboard, heave-ho
So Triton beware there's a biggun a-brewin'
In mysterious fathoms below

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The Broadway version of Fathoms Below is longer and more theatrical than the movie version, with Eric and Grismby adding their own vocals to the mix, along with a little bit of exposition to the world of the stage version.

(printable version)


Sailor:
I'll tell you a tale of the bottomless blue

Sailors:
And it's hey, to the starboard, heave ho

Sailor:
Brave sailor, beware, 'cause a big 'uns a-brewin'

Sailors:
Mysterious fathoms below
Heave ho


Sailor:
I'll sing you a song of the king of the sea

Sailors:
And it's hey, to the starboard, heave ho

Sailor:
The ruler of all of the oceans is he

Sailors:
In mysterious fathoms below

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


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

Grimsby:
Oh, yes, it's simply... delightful.

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

Sailor:
Back to work!

Sailors:
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 oceans is he
In mysterious fathoms below


Grimsby:
King of the sea? Why, that's nautical nonsense. Nothing but a superstition.

Sailor:
The king of the ocean gets angry
And when he gets angry, beware
I'm tellin' ya, lad, when King Triton is mad
How the waves'll buck, rock to and fro


Sailors:
Hold on, good luck, as down you go

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 father's dying wish and take up his crown.

Eric:
That's not the life for me, Grimsby. There it is again!

Sailor:
We ought to head back to shore, your majesty.

Grimsby:
Indeed, we should!

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

Sailor:
Aye-aye, Captain!

Sailors:
There's mermaids out there in the bottomless blue
And it's hey, to the starboard, heave ho
Watch out for 'em, lad, or you'll go to your ruin
Mysterious fathoms below

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