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This article is about the song. For the Benny Goodman album, see Ciribiribin (album).
Written 1898
Composer(s) Alberto Pestalozza
Lyricist(s) Carlo Tiochet

"Ciribiribin" is a merry Italian ballad, originally in three-quarter time, composed by Alberto Pestalozza in 1898 with lyrics by Carlo Tiochet. It quickly became popular and has been recorded by many artists. The distinguishing feature of the song is repeated use of the five-note title phrase. In the sheet music the name is indicated to be enunciated "chiribiribee",[citation needed] to allow singers to hold the vowel at the end as long as they like.

The song was a favorite of Harry James, who chose it as his theme song when he formed his band in 1939. Frank Sinatra worked with James's band for a while before going to work for Tommy Dorsey. On the James/Sinatra recording of the song, Sinatra enunciated the trailing "n".

Grace Moore made a live recording accompanied by a pianist, Gibner King, as an encore after presenting some pieces with Willem Mengelberg and the Concertgebouw Orchestra on June 23, 1936.

Artists who have recorded the song in Italian include Gracie Fields, Mario Lanza, Claudio Villa, The Andrews Sisters with Bing Crosby, and Renato Carosone.

Coloratura soprano Erna Sack recorded the song in German.

Warren Beatty's character in the 1978 film Heaven Can Wait plays the song on soprano saxophone.

The song "Java Jive", a hit song for The Ink Spots in 1940, originally featured the couplet "I'm not keen about a bean / Unless it is a 'cheery beery bean'", as a pun on Ciribiribin, but the Ink Spots' lead singer inadvertently sang it as "cheery cheery bean", and recordings by subsequent artists have generally either followed suit or changed it to "chili chili bean".

An earlier play on the "chili" joke came in a comic song written by Albert Von Tilzer and recorded by Billy Murray in 1921. The song, "Chili Bean", is about an exotic woman named Chili Bean. A bar of "Ciribiribin" appears in a brief instrumental segment in the middle of the song.

A rock 'n' roll adaptation, "Gotta Lotta Love", sung by Steve Alaimo, was mildly successful in late 1963.


  • George T. Simon, "In the Beginning." Liner notes for Columbia's Harry James disk, 1995.