"Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two)" is a popular song, written in 1892 by Harry Dacre, with the well-known chorus, "Daisy, Daisy / Give me your answer, do. / I'm half crazy / all for the love of you", ending with the words, "a bicycle built for two".
When Dacre, an English popular composer, first came to the United States, he brought with him a bicycle, for which he was charged import duty. His friend William Jerome, another songwriter, remarked lightly: "It's lucky you didn't bring a bicycle built for two, otherwise you'd have to pay double duty." Dacre was so taken with the phrase "bicycle built for two" that he soon used it in a song. That song, Daisy Bell, first became successful in a London music hall, in a performance by Katie Lawrence. Tony Pastor was the first to sing it in the United States. Its success in America began when Jennie Lindsay brought down the house with it at the Atlantic Gardens on the Bowery early in 1892.
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Even in original form this light-hearted song contains several puns ("tandem" as describing both a tandem bicycle and matrimony, bell/belle, weal/wheel, etc.), and almost from the beginning the song lent itself to parody and satire, with a great number of additional verses having been penned, ranging from the mildly humorous to the outright obscene. For example, the same year the song was published, an "answer" chorus appeared:
Michael, Michael, here is my answer true
You're half crazy if you think that that will do
If you can't afford a carriage
There won't be any marriage
Cause I'll be switched if I'll get hitched
On a bicycle built for two
Sometimes the songwriter's name—"Harry"—was used instead of "Michael" in this chorus.
In technology and culture
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Computing and technology
- In 1961, an IBM 704 at Bell Labs was programmed to 'sing' "Daisy Bell" in the earliest demonstration of computer speech synthesis.
- In 1974, auditory researchers used the melody of "Daisy Bell" for the first demonstration of "pure dichotic" (two-ear only) perception: they encoded the melody in a stereophonic signal in such a way that it could be perceived when listening with both ears but not with either ear alone.
- In 1985, Christopher C. Capon created a Commodore 64 program named "Sing Song Serenade", which caused the Commodore 1541 floppy disk drive to emit the tune of "Daisy Bell" directly from its hardware by rapidly moving the read/write head.
- Microsoft's personal assistant, Cortana, may sing the first line of Daisy when asked to sing a song.
- Science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke witnessed the IBM 704 demonstration and referenced it in the 1968 novel and film 2001: A Space Odyssey, in which the HAL 9000 computer sings "Daisy Bell" during its gradual deactivation.
- It is this very same connection to which the song most likely owes its appearance in the film, The Theory of Everything (2014), a drama about the life of the world renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, whereupon the fictionalized Hawking types out part of the song's lyric, in order to have the words subsequently "spoken", utilising his iconic text-to-synthesised-speech device.[original research?]
- In the 2005 animated film Robots, the character Bigweld sings "Daisy Bell" briefly while Rodney repairs him.
- Alvin and the Chipmunks covered the song for a 1961 episode of The Alvin Show and their album The Chipmunk Songbook (1962).
- Nat King Cole sang a cover for his album Those Lazy-Crazy-Hazy Days of Summer (1963).
- Blur covered the song as a B-side on their single "Sunday Sunday" (1993).
- Tin Hat recorded a rendition of the song for their album The Sad Machinery of Spring (2007), with the same lyrics but different music.
- Jimmy Urine and Chantal Claret did a Hip-Hop rendition of the song for the YouTube series Pancake Mountain.
- On May 3, 2014, an album composed entirely of covers of "Daisy Bell" entitled The Gay Nineties Old Tyme Music: Daisy Bell was released in conjunction with pop artist Mark Ryden's exhibit "The Gay 90s". The album features covers of "Daisy Bell" by Katy Perry, Tyler, The Creator, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Nick Cave, Kirk Hammett of Metallica, Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo, Wall of Voodoo's Stan Ridgway, Danny Elfman and others. Profits from the album went to the nonprofit Little Kids Rock.
- In the Doctor Who episode "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" (8 September 2012), Solomon's robots sing the first line of the song when deactivated by the Doctor.
- In the 2015 TV series Scream, the song is sung by a serial killer.
- In the Sonic Boom episode, "Dude, Where's my Eggman", Cubot sings this song in order to gain money. However, he is unsuccessful.
- In season 12 of Midsomer Murders, episode 4, "The Glitch", features this song, although the final line of the chorus is changed to be "a bicycle made for two" rather than "built for two".
- In the Supernatural episode "Thin Lizzie" (Season 11, Episode 5), the song plays on an old record player during the murder of a couple at the beginning of the episode.
- In 2016, model Daisy Lowe and her professional partner Aljaz Skorjanec danced a Viennese Waltz to "Daisy Bell" on the fourteenth series of the BBC hit show Strictly Come Dancing, earning Lowe her highest score in the competition.
- In season four, episode 11 of Futurama, titled "Love and Rocket," Bender sings the song over a montage featuring a romance he had with the Planet Express Ship. The episode is inspired by the film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
- In the video game, Mass Effect 2, the character Joker makes a reference to the AI system "EDI" singing Daisy Bell.
- Carroll, Leslie. Royal Affairs: A Lusty Romp Through the Extramarital Adventures That Rocked the British Monarchy. Edward VII and Daisy Greville, Countess of Warwick 1861–1938: NAL Trade. ISBN 0-451-22398-5.
- "Local history: The socialist socialite". BBC. 22 May 2009.
- Ewen, David (1966). American Popular Songs. Random House. ISBN 0-394-41705-4.
- Whitburn, Joel (1986). Pop Memories 1890–1954. Record Research. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
- Cray, Ed (1992). The Erotic Muse. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-2520-178-11.
- National Recording Registry Adds 25 – The Library Today (Library of Congress)
- Kubovy, M.; Cutting, J. E.; McGuire, R. M. . (1974). "Hearing with the Third Ear: Dichotic Perception of a Melody without Monaural Familiarity Cues". Science. 186 (4160): 272–274. PMID 4413641. doi:10.1126/science.186.4160.272.
- "[CSDb] - Sing Song Serenade by Christopher C. Capon (1985)". Commodore 64 Scene Database. Retrieved November 22, 2015.
- Sri San (2015-08-07), Daisy Daisy, retrieved 2016-10-24
- "Background: Bell Labs Text-to-Speech Synthesis". bell-labs.com. Lucent Technologies. March 1997. Archived from the original on 7 April 2000.
- Williams, Maxwell (May 2, 2014). "Katy Perry Featured on Pop Artist Mark Ryden's $100 'Gay Nineties' Album (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 20, 2017.
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- Johns Hopkins University (March 30, 2007). "Daisy Bell. Song.". Levy Sheet Music Collection, Box 140, Item 090.
- "Works of Edward M. Favor". Internet Archive.
- 1894 recording of "Daisy Bell" (MP3)
- Page featuring a recording of "Daisy Bell" sung and played by IBM computers at Bell Laboratories in the early 1960s (see last track on side 2 labeled "Synthesized computer speech demonstration (1963)")