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Feature Article, October 2010
Ching Chong (1917)

Inspired by a discussion in the Mechanical Music Digest about 'Ching Chong' (October 2010), here's a page dedicated to this tune, well known amongst mechanical music enthusiasts.

Composed by QRS Vice-President Lee S. Roberts (1884-1949) with words by J. Will Callahan (although at least two of the rolls credit Roberts as lyricist), it has remained popular in our hobby, mainly due to the elaborate arrangements the tune brought forth from various roll companies.

Presented here are six different performances/arrangements for your listening pleasure. Just click on the roll label to listen!

The original cover of 'Ching Chong'
Published by Lee S. Roberts, Fine Arts Bldg, Chicago

Link to sheet music (PDF file)


(Verse 1)
   'Way out in old "San-Fran" there is a Chi-na-man,
     who's known for miles a-round;
   Won-der-ful place he keeps, down where he eats and sleeps,
     way un-der-neath the ground!
   Each night the fes-tive chinks, come there to wink and blink,
     and dream a-way the hours.
   They sing this fun-ny song while they are borne a-long
     on beds of pop-py flow'rs,

   "Ching Chong, Oh Mis-ter Ching Chong,
     you're the king of Chi-na-town,
   Ching Chong, I love your sing-song
     when you have turned the lights all down;
   Ching Chong, just let me swing 'long
     thru the realms of drow-sy land;
   dream-ing while stars are beam-ing,
     Oh! Mis-ter Ching Chong, sing-song man."

 (Piano Interlude)

(Verse 2)
   When you're in "Fris-co town" don't fail to drop a-round
     and see this Ching Chong man.
   Wonderful things you'll learn down where the torch-es burn,
     he'll show you all he can.
   Then, when the time is ripe he'll fill your lit-tle pipe
     and then a light he'll bring.
   Gent-ly you'll float a-way far out on slum-ber bay ,
    and soft-ly you will sing:




Terry Smythe (QRS scan)
John Tuttle (Transcribed lyrics)
Joyce Brite (Recut Connorized 'Ching Chong' roll, which inspired the MMD discussion)
John Miller (Piano Roll Labelling software created these roll labels)