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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. 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.
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 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
- 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.
- 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 2005 novel Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman one of the characters is named Daisy because her parents own and ride a tandem bicycle. Additionally, Daisy's father teaches computer science; this may be a reference either to the song's use in early speech synthesis or in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
- 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 2014 film The Theory of Everything, Stephen Hawking, as portrayed by Eddie Redmayne, is briefly shown to type and play the chorus of "Daisy Bell" using a built-in voice synthesizer.
- 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.
- 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".
- In 2000, Wonder Kids: Toddler Tunes had Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two) as their 13th song. It was sung by the Wonder Kids Choir on that kids' music album.
- 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.
- 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.
- Evangeline Holland (10 August 2010). "The Amorous Life of Edward VII".
- 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.
- "[CSDb] - Sing Song Serenade by Christopher C. Capon (1985)". Commodore 64 Scene Database. Retrieved November 22, 2015.
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- 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
- Score on traditional-songs.com
- Video recording of Daisy Bell playing on a Commodore 1541 floppy disk drive.