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"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.
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 humourous 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
In his 1939 short story, "Lord Mountdrago", W. Somerset Maugham tells the story of an important member of the British Parliament who sees hints of the future - and of his ability to change the future - in his dreams. In one dream he leads the entire House of Commons in singing all the stanzas of "Daisy Bell" and he awakens to find that a vexatious opponent uses the last line of the chorus of that song to ridicule one of his key proposals. This story was dramatized in the 1955 British film Three Cases of Murder, which includes the scene of the singing, in which Orson Welles plays Lord Mountdrago and Alan Badel plays his opponent. This story has also been dramatized on TV.
In 1961 an IBM 704 at Bell Labs was programmed to 'sing' "Daisy Bell" in the earliest demonstration of computer speech synthesis. Science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke witnessed the 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.
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.
The 1999 Rugrats episode "Music" had a parody sung by Phil and Lil Deville. The sung the chorus' last line as "trike that is not for you."
In the first episode of the 2010 series This is England 86, the characters sing Daisy Bell for Woody and Lol's marriage.
In the 2010 manga Dengeki Daisy the character Kurosaki Tasuku was shown to sing the song, which he learned earlier from his deceased father.
In the television show Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the character Skye hears the tune in a dream sequence. It is later revealed that her father and mother sang the song to her when she was a baby. It is a foreshadowing of her real name and identity as Daisy Johnson.
- Alvin and the Chipmunks covered the song for a 1961 episode of The Alvin Show and their 1962 album The Chipmunk Songbook.
- Nat King Cole sang a more traditional rendering for his 1963 album Those Lazy-Crazy-Hazy Days of Summer.
- A Japanese-language version of the song is heard in Revenge of the Nerds when Takishi competes in a combination binge drinking/tricycle race event.
- Blur covered the song as a B-side on their 1993 single "Sunday Sunday".
- Tin Hat recorded a rendition of the song for their 2007 album The Sad Machinery of Spring, 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.
- 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; The Erotic Muse; University of Illinois Press; Champaign, IL: 1992 ISBN 0-2520-178-11
- National Recording Registry Adds 25 – The Library Today (Library of Congress)
- "Background: Bell Labs Text-to-Speech Synthesis". bell-labs.com. Lucent Technologies. March 1997. Archived from the original on 7 April 2000.
- 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. doi:10.1126/science.186.4160.272. PMID 4413641.
- "Sing Song Serenade". csdb.dk. Commodore 64 Scene Database. 1985.
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- Lyrics with .midi on National Institutes of Environmental Health services website
- "Daisy Bell. Song.". Levy Sheet Music Collection, Box 140, Item 090. Johns Hopkins University. March 30, 2007.
- Works of Edward M. Favor, including an 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
- The free score on www.traditional-songs.com
- Video recording of Daisy Bell playing on a Commodore 1541 floppy disk drive.