Live 02 Mar 1973 version
[Spoken intro:] Uh, testing. This is a song about, um, running away to, uh, join the police force. You boys ready? One, two. Uh, this is Danny, he plays accordion, I found him in the, playing in the audience of the Lawrence Welk Show. A Myron Floren protégé. A Myron Florenist?
Well, the machinist climbs his Ferris wheel like a brave
The fire eater's lyin' in a pool of sweat, victim of the heat wave
Behind the tent, the leather boy tightens his legs on the sword swallower's blade
Circus town's on the shortwave
Well, the runway lies ahead like a great false dawn
Oh, Fat Lady, Big Mama, Missy Bimbo sits in her chair and yawns
And the man-beast lies in his cage sniffin' popcorn [sniffs]
The midget licks his fingers and suffers Missy Bimbo's scorn
And circus town's been born
Whoa, and a press roll, drummer go, ballerina to-and-fro
Cartwheelin' up on the tightrope with a cannon blast, lightin' flash
Movin' fast, through the tent, Mars bent, he's gonna miss his fall
Oh, God save the human cannonball
And the flying Zambinis watch Margarita do her neck twist
The ringmaster gets the crowd to count along: "Ninety-five, ninety-six, ninety-seven"
And behind the tent, half bent, money spent, with his wet makeup drippin' on the ground
Oh, there's a half-smile, half-frown going down
Jesus, send some sweet women to save all the clowns
And circus boy dances like a monkey 'cross barbed wire
And the barker romances with a junkie, she's got a flat tire
Whoa, and the elephants dance real funky, and the band plays like a jungle fire
Circus town's on the live wire
The strong man lifts the midget up on his shoulders, up, up above the liar
Hear the liar
Whisperin' to the barker
Hear the liars
Checking out the center ring
Oh, hear the liars
Checking out the trapeze ring
Oh, hear the liars
Oh, feel his fire
Whoa, hear the liar
He's so scared of dyin'
Well, anybody wanna try the big top?
All aboard, Nebraska's our next stop
[Spoken outro:] Thank you. That's uh... Stay here, Danny! That's, uh, that was the Mexican rhythm section.
The above lyrics are for the live 02 Mar 1973 performance of WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY at Berkeley Community Theatre in Berkeley, CA, during what is considered the Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. Tour. The song was played in acoustic version, with Bruce Springsteen on guitar, Danny Federici on accordion, and Garry Tallent on tuba. Early versions of the song, including this one, feature some lyrics different from the album version, especially in the third and fourth verses.
This was a double-bill show, with Bruce Springsteen opening for headliners Blood, Sweat & Tears. A 7-song soundboard recording in circulation among collectors is believed to be the complete 02 Mar 1973 performance.
The 02 Mar 1973 show at Berkeley Community Theatre was commercially released in the UK. Since 2005 some enterprising record labels in the UK have been releasing Bruce Springsteen radio and TV broadcasts (and some soundboard recordings) from the seventies, eighties, and nineties. Though these releases are not authorized by Bruce Springsteen or his record company, they are lawful due to a legal loophole in the UK.
Thanks Jake (ol'catfishinthelake at BTX and Greasy Lake). Some of the above information is taken from Brucebase.
List of available versions of WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY on this website:WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY [Album version]