Daisy Bell

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"Bicycle Built for Two" redirects here. For the multi-rider bicycle, see Tandem bicycle.
"Daisy Bell"
Released 1892
Writer(s) Harry Dacre

"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".

The song is said to have been inspired by Daisy Greville, one of the many mistresses of King Edward VII.[1][2]

It is the earliest song sung using computer speech synthesis, as later referenced in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey.


"Daisy Bell" was composed by Harry Dacre in 1892. As David Ewen writes in American Popular Songs:[3]

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.

The song was originally recorded and released by Dan W. Quinn in 1893.[4]


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.[5]

In technology and culture[edit]

  • In 1961 an IBM 704 at Bell Labs was programmed to 'sing' "Daisy Bell" in the earliest demonstration of computer speech synthesis.[6] 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.[7]
  • It is also this very same connection to which it most likely owes its appearance in the 2014 film The Theory of Everything, 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.
  • 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.[8]
  • 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.[9]
  • In the Sonic Boom episode, "Dude, Where's my Eggman", Cubot sings this song in order to gain money. However, he is unsuccessful.
  • Microsoft's personal assistant, Cortana, may sing the first line of Daisy when asked to sing a song.[10]
  • In the Doctor Who episode "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship", Solomon's robots sing the first line of the song when deactivated by the Doctor.



  1. ^ 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. 
  2. ^ "Local history: The socialist socialite". BBC. 22 May 2009. 
  3. ^ Ewen, David (1966). American Popular Songs. Random House. ISBN 0-394-41705-4. 
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Pop Memories 1890–1954. Record Research. ISBN 0-89820-083-0. 
  5. ^ Cray, Ed; The Erotic Muse; University of Illinois Press; Champaign, IL: 1992 ISBN 0-2520-178-11
  6. ^ National Recording Registry Adds 25 – The Library Today (Library of Congress)
  7. ^ "Background: Bell Labs Text-to-Speech Synthesis". bell-labs.com. Lucent Technologies. March 1997. Archived from the original on 7 April 2000. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ "[CSDb] - Sing Song Serenade by Christopher C. Capon (1985)". Commodore 64 Scene Database. Retrieved November 22, 2015. 
  10. ^ Sri San (2015-08-07), Daisy Daisy, retrieved 2016-10-24 

External links[edit]

(see last track on side 2 labeled "Synthesized computer speech demonstration (1963)")