The Voice of Ms. Crystalline

Music Artist | Singer-Songwriter | Event Host & Organizer

Ms. Crystalline is a Third Culture Kid. A music and arts advocate, music artist, singer-songwriter, and event organizer & aspiring producer. 

She organizes music jams and community Open Mics and is the artistic director and creative mastermind of World Extravaganza, an Open Mic Community Music and Arts Organization, and her passion project.

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WHO IS THE ORIGINAL SONGWRITER OF THE "DING DONG SONG"?

Have you ever tried to search for who the original singer-songwriter of a song you like on the internet but it's so obscure you can't find it?

I've been looking for an American accent sounding cover artist who sang the "Ding Dong Song" with the following opening lyric line,

I hear bells that go ding dong . . . deep down inside my heart.

I heard the very first version of the song on my Dad's old CD collection of American music, but I can't find the version anywhere online. I was trying to update my Spotify playlist of old school favorites.

I dug it up from my old music files, and here is the audio file of song, by the (cover, perhaps) band called The Young Team.

I cannot find any information online regarding the band called The Young Team and for the songs in the album that I really thought were the original versions. My dad would often bring many CDs home from his trips from China.

Anyway, so I did my online research on the background of the 'Ding Dong Song', and viola! Mystery solved. To my surprise, apparently it is originally a Chinese song.

At first I thought the original songwriter was Dick Lee, a Singaporean pop singer, composer, songwriter and playwright, but I can't stream his tracks anywhere online on his website. Another source says that he composed all songs on his album except the "Ding Dong Song" on his The Mad Chinaman Album. However, his song came out on 1989, which was much later than the original release date.  I can't confirm if he covered the same song, since there is also another more recent and popular song that appears on Google Search with the same title that released in 2004 by a Swedish pop singer.

Any how, I found a few versions. The first one is sung by Tsai Chin (周采芹), a Chinese-born British actress, director, teacher and author. Apparently, the song is from "The World of Suzie Wong", a musical show that opened in 1958 with a Hollywood film released in 1960 based on the book with the same title written by British novelist Richard Mason

The stage play roles were acted by William HoldenNancy Kwan, and Sylvia Syms.  The "Ding Dong Song" was a hit on the top of the music charts in Asia in 1959.

I suppose during this post World War II era, Westerners were quite fascinated with the East and stereotyped Asian women as exotic, promiscuous and subservient with the portrayal of the Suzie Wong character, a Chinese woman who works as a prostitute in this movie.

 

The tune of the original Chinese song was translated to English by the lyricist Lionel Bart. The song was recorded for Decca Records in London which became a huge hit back in the day.

Another cover version I found that I really liked is by Rebecca Pan, or Pan Wan Ching (潘迪华). This version is both in English and Chinese released in 1960 on her album, Oriental Pearls.

Ding Dong Song , Vocal : Pan Wan Ching [ Rebecca Pan ]

Finally, it was through this Google Book called Historical Dictionary of Hong Kong Cinema, that I found that the original Chinese composer is Yao Min, a Chinese popular music singer and songwriter who gave the permission and rights to performer Dong Peipei (董佩佩) or Tung Pei Pei to sing. The Chinese lyricist is Yi Wen. The original version of the song also appeared in Chinese Cinema movie "The Flame of Love ", a film directed by Evan Yang for The Shaw Brothers Studio.  The "Ding Dong Song" was later on remade for Hollywood with English lyrics. I also can't find the original track sung by Yao Min, if ever he did also recorded his version, since it is mentioned that he is also a singer.

The very original song is called "The Second Spring" (第二春) and is performed by Dong Peipei:

Below is the excerpt from the YouTube uploader CDman88

"

The "Second Spring" is a euphemism for second marriage. The young lady is torn between fear and happiness when she hears the sound of wedding bells in anticipation of her second marriage. This song was a huge hit for Dong Peipei and became her signature song. The melody was given English lyrics and renamed the "Ding Dong Song" and sung by the actress, Tsai Chin, in the musical play, "The World of Suzie Wong." The lyrics of the "Ding Dong Song" are a shadow of the original Chinese lyrics of the "Second Spring.

第二春 - 董佩佩 (Traditional Chinese)
曲:姚敏, 詞:易文

明明是冷冷清清的長夜
為什麼還有叮叮噹當的聲音
聽不出是遠還是近
分不出是夢還是真
好像是一串鈴 打亂了我的心

明明是模模糊湖的黃昏
為什麼還有清清楚楚的燈影
看不出是喜還是驚
分不出是夢還是真
好像是一支箭 穿透了我的心

窗外不再有淒淒切切的幽靈
只聽到喜鵲兒齊鳴
今夜的輕風吹來了第二春
又把消沉的夜鶯吹醒

明明是模模糊湖的黃昏
為什麼還有清清楚楚的燈影
看不出是喜還是驚
分不出是夢還是真
好像是一支箭 穿透了我的心
穿透了我的心

穿透了我的心

第二春 - 董佩佩 (Simplified Chinese)
曲:姚敏, 词:易文

明明是冷冷清清的长夜
为什么还有叮叮当当的声音
听不出是远还是近
分不出是梦还是真
好像是一串铃 打乱了我的心

明明是模模糊湖的黄昏
为什么还有清清楚楚的灯影
看不出是喜还是惊
分不出是梦还是真
好像是一支箭 穿透了我的心

窗外不再有凄凄切切的幽灵
只听到喜鹊儿齐鸣
今夜的轻风吹来了第二春
又把消沉的夜莺吹醒

明明是模模糊湖的黄昏
为什么还有清清楚楚的灯影
看不出是喜还是惊
分不出是梦还是真
好像是一支箭 穿透了我的心
穿透了我的心

穿透了我的心

Second Spring (Second Marriage) - (Di Er Chun) - Dong Peipei
Song: Yao Min, Words: Yi Wen

It is obviously a cold, lonely long night
Why is there a tinkling, jingling sound
I can't hear if it is from far or near
Can not tell if it is a dream or real
Seems to be a string of bells that upset my heart

Obviously a fuzzy, blurry lake at dusk
Why is there a clear and unmistakable shadow from a lamp
Can't see if it is happy or scary
Can 't tell if it is a dream or real
Like an arrow through my heart

Outside the window is no longer desolate and quiet like a ghost
Only to hear young magpies singing
Tonight's light breeze blowing is a second spring
Again the sadness of the nightingale has blown away

Obviously a fuzzy, blurry lake at dusk
Why is there a clear and unmistakable shadow from a lamp
Can't see if it is happy or scary
Can not tell if it is a dream or real
Like an arrow through my heart
Piercing through my heart"

"

The English translation of the tune "Ding Dong Song" is much more happier in a wedding sense.

"The Ding Dong Song" 

I hear that bells go ding dong I hear bells that go ding dong
deep down inside my heart. Deep down inside my heart. 

Each time you say love me, Each time you say love me, 
then I know it's time for Ding Dong to start. Then I know it's time for Ding Dong to start. 

Each time you say love me, Each time you say love me, 
Ding Dong, Ding Dong! Ding Dong, Ding Dong! 
Each time you say kiss me, Each time you say kiss me, 
Ding Dong, Ding Dong! Ding Dong, Ding Dong! 

I hope I don't wait too long, I hope I do not wait too long. 
to hear that bells go ding dong.

To hear that bells go ding dong. To hear that bells go ~ Ding Dong!

To hear that bells go to Ding Dong! 

"

I suppose discovering all this information that the song idea is about a bride anticipating an arranged second marriage, kind of tainted my idealistic portrayal of a really romantic, pure and lovely song that I could perhaps have considered to play on my future wedding day? I always found the song really symbolic of American romanticism of the wait for true love and marriage. It is still a lovely song nonetheless. Perhaps I will also do a cover of this in the near future in English.

Anyway, I have solved the mystery of who the original composer and lyricist song, and along the way, I learned to appreciate a little bit of Chinese cultural history and roots from this interesting research. I will perhaps upload that wonderful song by the American cover artist version where I first heard this song.

In any case, I have a question for you to ponder.

As an unknown composer, lyricist, singer or singer-songwriter, I want to know, would you feel honored if your song became a huge hit, if was remade and carried out across oceans and sung by another performer?

What would happen if actress and singer Tsai Chin didn't choose to sing the "Ding Dong Song" that became a huge movie hit granted by producer and English Theatre impresario,  Sir Donald Albery? Would the composer Yao Min even have come to be exposed to the American spotlight? 

I used to think that before that there was a lack of originality in Chinese music because so many Mandarin Pop songs are taking Western compositions and rewriting it into Chinese lyrics, but Westerners have adapted many things from the East long before since the West came to the East. 

Now isn't that interesting?

Feel free to comment below, anonymous if so.

Cheers!

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