Daisy Bell

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"Bicycle Built for Two" redirects here. For the multi-rider bicycle, see Tandem bicycle.
"Daisy Bell"
Released 1892
Composer Harry Dacre
Sung by Edward M. Favor. Recorded by the Edison Phonograph Company on brown wax cylinder in 1894

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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".

The song was inspired by Daisy Greville, one of the many mistresses of King Edward VII.[1] The reference in the last line to "a bicycle built for two" is an subtle reference to the infamous "sex chair" that the monarch had constructed in his Paris appartment whilst he was Prince of Wales.[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 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 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][10]
  • In an episode of The Golden Girls from 1991, Sophia sings the first two lines of the song while dancing.
  • The 1999 Rugrats episode "Music" had a parody sung by Phil and Lil Deville. They sing the chorus' last line as "trike that is not for you."
  • In the 2002 episode of Futurama, "Love and Rocket", Bender sings an altered version of the song during a montage of romantic scenes with the Planet Express ship.
  • Bigweld can be heard briefly singing Daisy Bell in the 2005 animated film Robots.
  • In the first episode of the 2010 series This is England 86, the characters sing "Daisy Bell" for Woody and Lol's marriage.[11]
  • 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.
  • In the television show Scream episode "In the Trenches", the group are trapped in an abandoned bowling alley when the ghost faced killer plays Daisy Bell over the loud-speaker to torment them.
  • In the 2014 show Sonic Boom episode "Dude, Where's My Eggman", Cubot was singing "Daisy Bell" when he and Orbot try to bail Dr. Eggman out of jail for their street band.
  • In a 2015 episode of the show "Manhattan", the lyrics can be seen to have been written on a chalkboard in the background of one of the laboratory areas.
  • Chipspeech and Alter/Ego reference the song with the characters "Dandy 704", who is based on the IBM 704, and "Daisy" his estranged lover.



  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. ^ Evangeline Holland (10 August 2010). "The Amorous Life of Edward VII". 
  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. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gnMgmlKi_o
  11. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xleVS2h0UOI

External links[edit]