Fin de Cycle

fare you well
‘Fare you well Daisy Bell’ by Harry Dacre, published by Francis, Day & Hunter, London in 1894 and illustrated by H. G. Banks.

The proud man on the bicycle of this cover is Harry Dacre writer of the timeless classic Daisy Bell. He was also the owner of the Frank Dean & C° publishing house. Born as Frank Dean (1857–1922) on the Isle of Man he started writing songs in 1882. After some minor successes he emigrated to Australia and later moved to America. He arrived there in 1892, with a song in his pocket that would become a mega hit. Daisy Bell (also known as ‘A bicycle built for two’) would conquer the world with an annoying earworm chorus:

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do,
I’m half crazy all for the love of you.
It won’t be a stylish marriage,
I can’t afford a carriage,
But you’d look sweet upon the seat
Of a bicycle made for two.

daisybellaustralia copy
Left, the sheet music cover of ‘Daisy Bell’ by Harry Dacre, not in our collection. Right, English couple on a tandem in 1900.

Allegedly Harry Dacre had brought with him his bicycle, for which he had to pay import duty. A friend of his remarked: ‘You’re lucky that you didn’t bring a bicycle built for two, or you would have to pay double’. This witticism inspired Dacre to write a song about the pleasures of riding a tandem.

portrait of Frances Evelyn “Daisy” Greville, Countess of Warwick (1889)
Frances Evelyn “Daisy” Greville, Countess of Warwick, 1889, National Portrait Gallery London

However, the source of inspiration for Daisy Bell could also have been Frances Evelyn “Daisy” Greville, Countess of Warwick.  She was a celebrated society cyclist, feminist and socialist. But she is best remembered for her extramarital affairs, including her liaison with the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII.

daisybell duits copy
Left Daisy by Harry Dacre, published by Bosworth & C°, Leipzig (not in our collection). Right Isabella (Daisy Bell) by Harry Dacre published by Carl John, Stockholm.

After a lukewarm start Daisy Bell went on to become a worldwide success. It was translated in different languages, and strangely in Sweden it was renamed Isabella. The song spawned numerous sequels, parodies and imitations.

daisybell kaps
‘Daisy Bell’ waltz arranged by Karl Kaps, published by Francis, Day & Hunter, London in 1893.

We gladly entertain you with the following contemporary version by the English rock band Blur. But know that the band members themselves consider it to be one of the worst moments in their career…

In 1894 Harry Dacre himself wrote the sequel Fare you well Daisy Bell, the cover shown at the beginning. Its success however was as disappointing as the relation between Daisy and her beau: she became bored of the tandem and he rode away on a bicycle built for one. The author signed this cover with a pun: ‘yours-fin-de-cycle-ly, Harry Dacre’.

A state of the art computer in 1957, IBM model 704 at NASA.

Stanley Kubrick immortalised the song in his film 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the final act the computer HAL-9000 sings the Daisy Bell chorus. This was a tribute to HAL’s great ancestor, an IBM model 704, the first computer to ever sing. It happened in the Bell Labs in 1961 and they recreated the song Daisy Bell for obvious reasons. You can hear the recording of this earliest known computer-synthesized voice singing.

The science-fiction author Arthur C. Clarke witnessed this first ‘artificial singing’ demonstration. He was so impressed that he incorporated it in his 1968 novel 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the film, we witness near the end of the movie that HAL is deactivated. After the famous lines ‘I’m afraid Dave… Dave my mind is going, I can feel it…’ (2:43) he, she or it sings Daisy Bell increasingly slow and distorted, before finally shutting down (5:03).

Bobeche et Galimafré

bobeche bladmuziek
‘Bobeche et Galimafré’ by Juliano, published by O. Legouix, Paris in 1859 and illustrated by Antoine Barbizet.

This cover shows two Parisian buffoons: Bobèche and Galimafré. It was illustrated by Barbizet in 1859. Even forty years after their successful performances, the pair remained popular in Paris. Bobèche (Antoine Mandelot) and Galimafré (Auguste Guérin) were paradistes or clowns who performed at the Boulevard du Temple in the first quarter of the 19th century.

‘Bobèche et Galimafré au Boulevard du Temple’, Bibliothèque Nationale de France

At that time the Boulevard du Temple resembled a pleasure garden.  It was lined with theatres. Scattered over the vast expanse of the boulevard were a host of small shows: jugglers, paradistes, monkey showmen, dwarves, giants, skeleton men, strongmen, tightrope walkers and fortune tellers. They attracted a crowd day and night. In the middle, street vendors tried to sell their ware. A typical street vendor at the Boulevard du Temple was the marchand de coco. You can see one standing on the right of the print above. Coco was a lemonade containing liquorice extract. A coco vendor always wore a white apron and carried a large elongated container topped with a figurine to attract attention. He had several drinking cups strapped onto belts. We also see a coco vendor standing in the public at the buffoons’ show, depicted in this cartoon.

“Daddy, Daddy! says Fanfan, let’s go see Bobèche and Galimafré who are slapping each other. Afterwards you can buy a coco to the health of Angel Pitou, the martyr of freedom.”

A contemporary oil painting also shows the acclaimed theatre performance by Bobèche and Galimafré. Can you pick out the obligatory coco vendor?

bob & gal
Street theatre performance of Bobeche and Galimafre, c.1820 (oil on canvas) by Jean Roller, Musee de la Ville de Paris, Musee Carnavalet

The Parisians nicknamed the Boulevard du Temple ‘Boulevard du Crime’, not because it was dangerous but to allude to the bloody melodramas playing in its theatres.

An artistic impression of the Boulevard du Temple (1862).

A panoramic painting of the Boulevard du Temple illustrates the extent of the street. Have you spotted our coco man in this crowd? In the year this was painted (1862), almost all of it would be demolished by Baron Haussmann in order to enlarge the Place de la République during the rebuilding of Paris.

The Boulevard du Temple has been rebuilt in the studio for the legendary film Les Enfants du Paradis. In the fragment we see Baptiste Debureau (Jean-Louis Barrault) trying to get to Garance (Arletty) during carnival.

But let’s get back to Bobèche and Galimafré. As told before they were paradistes. A parade is a type of French street entertainment dating back to the renaissance with characters often drawn from the commedia dell’arte. In the first quarter of the 19th century it was a short improvisational buffoonery performed by two or three characters on a balcony outside the smaller theatres, or on outdoor platforms. The sketch was larded with crude humour, vulgarities, double entendres, sexual innuendos and obscene gestures. Slaps and punches enlivened the spectacle. Bobêche and Galimafré were the best-loved parade characters of this period. They always presented their jokes in the form of dialogues.

Jocrisse, by Juliano, published by O. Legouix, Paris in 1859 and illustrated by Antoine Barbizet.
Bobèche played the standard comedic character of a Jocrisse, the incarnation of stupidity and clumsiness. Bobèche was a city boy who wore colourful clothes, striped stockings and a cornered hat topped with a butterfly.

Galimafré would attract the crowd with a giant rattle. He was a tall lanky man, dressed in the costume of a Norman peasant. His wig’s hair was cut straight across the forehead. On top of that he wore a kind of bowler hat.

During twenty-some years Bobèche and Galimafré performed on the Boulevard du Temple but also in private salons. The fall of Napoleon also meant the end of the popular duo. Galimafré refused to perform for the ‘enemy’ and worked as a stage technician for the rest of his life. Bobèche became director of a small theatre in Rouen. But soon his theatre went bankrupt and nothing was heard of him since.