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"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", 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".
Coloratura soprano Erna Sack recorded the song in German.
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.