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The phrase "Heigh-Ho" was first recorded in 1553 and is defined as an expression of "yawning, sighing, languor, weariness, disappointment". Eventually, it blended meanings with the similarly spelled "hey-ho". The phrase "hey-ho" first appeared in print in 1471, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, which says it has nautical origins, meant to mark the rhythm of movement in heaving or hauling.
"Heigh-Ho" is a song from Walt Disney's 1937 animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, written by Frank Churchill (music) and Larry Morey (lyrics). It is sung by the group of seven dwarfs as they work at a mine with diamonds and rubies, and is one of the best-known songs in the film. The melodic theme for "Heigh-Ho" might have been inspired by Robert Schumann's composition for piano "The Happy Farmer, Returning From Work" from his 1848 work Album for the Young, Opus 68. The other Dwarf Chorus songs are "Bluddle-Uddle-Um-Dum" (the washing-up song) and "The Silly Song".
Donald Duck sings this song in "The Volunteer Worker", and "The Riveter".
In the 1988 Disney animated film Oliver & Company, Tito sings "Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, it's off to work we go" when he is rescuing Jenny.
The song was also featured in the 1979 stage adaption of the 1937 animated musical film.
Los Lobos recorded a Spanish-language cover of this song for their 2009 album Los Lobos Go Disney.
In other media
The TV series The Electric Company parodied the song twice, both in Snow White related skits; in one, "Snow Ball and the Six Dwarfs", the dwarfs (five of whom have ly adverbial names and the sixth is called "Doc") enter singing "Ho-Hi, Ho-Hi". Another, a "Director" skit in which the Director is trying to direct a movie called "Snow White and the Three Dwarfs", the dwarfs sing "Heigh-Ho" as an introduction song used to start the show and introduce the dwarfs (Happy always got his name wrong, calling himself "Henry", "Harry" or "Harvey").
In the book Fudge-a-Mania, the character Sheila was singing the song after getting a baby-sitting job.
In World of Warcraft, when playing as a male Dwarf, characters can tell a joke in which the character will sing the song. "Heigh-ho, heigh-ho... ugh, second verse, same as the first."
The Snow White sequence of the Simpsons episode, "Four Great Women and a Manicure", features the seven dwarfs (based on Simpsons characters) singing another parody of the Heigh-Ho song, "Ho-Hi, Ho-Hi".
One of the most famous scenes in the 1984 movie Gremlins has the Gremlins watching the "Heigh-Ho" scene in a theater in Kingston Falls, and singing along.
Tom Waits recorded a version of "Heigh-Ho" for the 1988 A&M record Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films. The song was included on the "Bastards" Disc from his 2006 album Orphans. Bruce and Bongo also created a remix based on this song in 1986 "Hi Ho (Heigh Ho - Whistle While You Work)", reaching No1 in the Austrian charts. The song was also used in a 2010 Hershey's Kisses commercials, Biobest vitality commercials in Canada, and the Levi Strauss & Co. "Go Forth" ad campaign centered on Braddock, Pennsylvania.
In the Discworld novel series, the song — and several bawdy variations — is only obliquely referred to as the Heigh-Ho Song. A much enjoyed (although self-admitted very stereotypical) song, it's also one of the few popular dwarf songs not about gold.
The scene was also featured as a background during the closing credits in the 1996 fantasy-horror TV show Liham ng Gabi.
In the last scene of Scared Shrekless, the song can be heard as the dwarves silhouettes are seen on a rock as the dwarves walk along shortly before they are egged by Shrek and the gang.
The song is also briefly referenced in Snow White and the Huntsman when the dwarf Beith (Ian McShane) speaks the song's lyric "Hi-ho lads, it's off to work!" Another dwarf threatens to "smash his face in" if he starts whistling.
The entire song would later be used In Noah Byrd's black-and-white musical short of the same name, Heigh-Ho Mine. Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and the 1930s versions of Mickey Mouse and Horace Horsecollar make cameos. Tom Kenny, Dee Bradley Baker, and Richard Horvitz does every voice in the Cartoon except for the usage of audio of the Dwarfs from the soundtrack of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
In the Saved by the Bell episode "Snow White and the Seven Dorks", the class is discussing ways to alter the story, Zack Morris suggests to "make the dwarves tall blonde chicks and put them in bikinis", to which A.C. Slater replies "I'm all for that, heigh ho heigh ho"!
In Boy Meets World, Eric comments that the family is up early, to which Alan replies "Someone was in the shower singing hi-ho, hi ho" and then Eric finishes his sentence with "It's off to work we go".
- "Why has 'hey-ho' made a comeback?". tokyohive.com. Retrieved 2014-10-24.
- "Visual kei bands to take on Disney songs for ‘V-ROCK Disney’!". tokyohive.com. Retrieved 2011-09-16.
- "We Are All Workers". YouTube. 2010-09-27. Retrieved 2012-02-21.