WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY

Live 24 Apr 1973 (early show) version


[Spoken intro:] Uh... I'll bring up some of the other guys in the band. Come on up. You folks are probably saying, "What's this folk singer doing dressed up so fancy?" Right? (chuckles) This is our bid for competition with Chicago, this number. We bring out the... we bring out the brass... no jive, we don't fool around. I found Danny, uh... playing in the audience at a Lawrence Welks Show... playing so good, I asked him if he wanna join my band. This is a circus song, as are most of our numbers. (chuckles) But uh... Ok. I'll start it myself (chuckles).

The machinist climbs his Ferris wheel like a brave
The fire eater's lyin' in the pool of sweat, victim of the heat wave
Behind the tent, the leather boy tightened his legs on the sword swallower's blade
Circus town's on the shortwave

Well, the runway lies ahead like a great false dawn
Ooh, Fat Lady, Big Mama, Missy Bimbo sits in her chair and yawns
The man-beast lies in his cage sniffin' popcorn [sniffs]
The midget licks his fingers, suffers Missy Bimbo's scorn
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 kids to count along: "Ninety-five, ninety-six, ninety-seven"
And behind the tent, half bent, money spent, with his wet face drippin' to the ground
With a half-smile, half-frown going down
Jesus, send some sweet women to save all the clowns

And circus boy dances like a monkey on barbed wire
And the barker romances with a junkie, she's got a flat tire
And the elephants dance real funky, and the band plays like a jungle fire
Circus town's on the live wire
And strong man Sampson lifts the midget, little Tiny Tim, way up on his shoulders, up, way up, oh, above the liars
Little Tiny goes, "Where's the liars?"
Sampson goes, "Outside parkin' the cars in the parking lot"
Little Tiny goes, "Where's the liars?"
Sampson goes, "Over there whisperin', making deals with the barker"
Little Tiny Tim says, "Sampson, where's the liars?"
They're inside sighin'
Little Tiny Tim says, "Sampson, where's the liars?"
Oh, they're outside cryin'
Oh, hear the liars
Oh, feel their fire
Hear the liars
They're so scared of dyin'
Well, anybody wanna try the big top?
All aboard, Nebraska's our next stop

[Spoken outro:] Thank you. Thank you very much.


Info

The above lyrics are for the live 24 Apr 1973 early show performance of WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY at The Main Point in Bryn Mawr, PA, 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. The fourth verse in this particular version features a unique (among circulating versions, at least) lyrical ending wherein Tiny Tim and Sampson discuss "the liars".

The 24 Apr 1973 Early Show

In April 1973, Bruce Springsteen performed a two-night stand at The Main Point, (24 and 25 Apr 1973). He played two shows each night, an early one at 08:00PM and a late one at 10:00PM. These were double-bill shows, with Springsteen headlining and folk duo Aztec Two-Step opening. The complete early show from the first night was broadcast live on Philadelphia's WMMR-FM, and that was Bruce Springsteen's first real time concert venue simulcast. Since then, the audio has widely circulated in excellent quality among collectors.

Promotional poster for the 24-25 Apr 1973 show at The Main Point, Bryn Mawr, PA
Promotional poster for the 24-25 Apr 1973 show at The Main Point, Bryn Mawr, PA
(Taken from Lelands)

The 24 Apr 1973 WBCN-FM radio broadcast 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.

Bruce Springsteen -- Bound For Glory
Bruce Springsteen -- Bound For Glory

CD - Leftfield Media (LFMCD516) - UK, 2011

This release contains the 09 Jan 1973 WBCN-FM radio broadcast and the 24 Apr 1973 WMMR-FM radio broadcast.
Bruce Springsteen -- Bound For Glory
Bruce Springsteen -- Bound For Glory

2xLP - Let Them Eat Vinyl (LETV039LP) - UK, 2012

This release contains the 09 Jan 1973 WBCN-FM radio broadcast and the 24 Apr 1973 WMMR-FM radio broadcast. It was released under exclusive agreement with Leftfield Media.
Bruce Springsteen -- The Spirit Of The Radio: Legendary Broadcasts From The Early 1970s
Bruce Springsteen -- The Spirit Of The Radio: Legendary Broadcasts From The Early 1970s

3xCD - Parallel Lines (PLCD022) - Europe, 2014

This release contains the 09 Jan 1973 WBCN-FM radio broadcast, the 24 Apr 1973 WMMR-FM radio broadcast, and part of the 05 Feb 1975 broadcast from The Main Point.
Bruce Springsteen -- Live Collection
Bruce Springsteen -- Live Collection

3xCD - Bandana (BAND1011) - UK, 2015

This release contains the 24 Apr 1973 WMMR-FM radio broadcast, part of the 05 Feb 1975 broadcast from The Main Point, and various TV appearances from the nineties.

Credits / References

Thanks Jake (ol'catfishinthelake at BTX and Greasy Lake). Some of the above information is taken from Brucebase.

Available Versions

List of available versions of WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY on this website:

WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY [Album version]
WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY [Live 09 Jan 1973 version]
WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY [Live 31 Jan 1973 (early show) version]
WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY [Live 02 Mar 1973 version]
WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY [Live 24 Apr 1973 (early show) version]
WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY [Live 01 May 1973 version]
WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY [Live 31 May 1973 (WGOE-FM) version]
WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY [Live 02 Jun 1973 version]
WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY [Live 03 Mar 1974 (late show) version]
WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY [Live 09 Mar 1974 (KLOL-FM) version]
WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY [Live 09 Apr 1974 version]
WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY [Live 16 Nov 1990 version]
WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY [Live 26 Nov 1996 version]
WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY [Live 04 Dec 2001 version]
WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY [Live 19 Dec 2004 (early show) version]
WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY [Live 22 Jun 2005 version]
WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY [Live 27 Apr 2008 version]
WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY [Live 25 Sep 2009 version]
WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY [Live 07 Nov 2009 version]

Page last updated: 21 Oct 2013