This song begins as a long narrative poem in which Donovan tells of the legendary island of Atlantis. Exotic and mythological images were on the minds of many Hippies in the '60s, and Atlantis was the symbol of the conterculture moment with the hope that if true love is found, Atlantis will be reached. The only sung lines in the song are:
Way down beneath the ocean Where I wanna be she may be
The background vocals are credited as "Donovan's fans." It is rumored that Paul McCartney, who had earlier contributed to Donovan's hit "Mellow Yellow," sang backing vocals, although some sources state that the song was recorded while McCartney was in Scotland.
The song was used in a violent scene in the movie Goodfellas.
Donovan re-recorded the song as a parody "Hail Atlantis" on the animated series Futurama. He also redid the song with the German group No Angels for the German soundtrack of Atlantis: The Lost Empire entitled "Atlantis 2002."
Suggestion credit: Sara - Silver Spring, MD, for all above