WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY

Live 31 May 1973 (WGOE-FM) version


The machinist climbs his Ferris wheel like a brave
Now, 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
And circus town's on the shortwave

Well now, the runway lies ahead like a great false dawn
Ooh, Fat Lady, Big Mama, Missy Bimbo sits in her chair and yawns
And the man-beast lies in his cage sniffing popcorn [sniffs]
And the midget licks his fingers, suffers Missy Bimbo's scorn
And the circus town's been born

Whoa, and the press roll, drummer go, ballerina to-and-fro
Cartwheelin' up on that 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 then, a suitcase in his hand, stealing silently away from the circus grounds
As the highway's haunted by them carnival sounds
They dance like great greasepaint ghosts on the wind
A man in baggy pants, a lonely face, a crazy grin
Runnin' home to a small Ohio town
Jesus, send some sweet women to save all your clowns

And circus boy dances like a monkey on barbed wire
And now the barker romances with a junkie, she's got a flat tire
Oh, and the elephants dance real funky, and the band plays like a jungle fire
And circus town's on the live wire
And the strong man, Sampson, lifts the midget, little Tiny Tim, way up on his shoulders, way up
And carries him on down the midway
Past the kids, past the sailors, into his dimly lit trailer
And the Ferris wheel turns and turns like it ain't ever gonna stop
And the circus boss leans over and whispers into a little boy's ear, "Hey son, you wanna try the big top?"
All aboard, Nebraska's our next stop

[Spoken outro:] There we go. (chuckles) Oh! Yeah.


Info

The above lyrics are for the live 31 May 1973 radio performance of WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY as broadcast on Richmond's WGOE-FM. The song was played in acoustic version, with Bruce Springsteen on guitar, Danny Federici on accordion, and Garry Tallent on tuba. This is the first version (among circulating ones, at least) that features lyrics similar to the album version. The only variation is the "...Behind the tent, the leather boy tightens..." line instead of "...Behind the tent, the hired hand tightens..." in the first verse.

The 31 May 1973 WGOE-FM Radio Performance

Bruce Springsteen's 31 May 1973 radio performance was broadcast live on Richmond's WGOE-FM. The show took place at Alpha Sound Studios in Richmond, VA, and the radio station broadcasted it via remote hook-up. While all his other radio shows were merely recorded inside the DJ broadcast room, this was the only time that Springsteen ever played for a radio broadcast from an actual recording studio. Besides the WGOE DJ, the small audience heard inside the studio with the band includes Mike Appel, Jim Cretecos, and David Sancious who had yet to join the band but was employed at the studio at the time.

After the show, Mike Appel took possession of the master tape, so none of the performance was ever re-broadcast by the station. The complete radio show was taped by a listener and has since circulated among fans, but the sound quality is weak. A low generation copy of the entire original master tape first surfaced in very limited hands in the early nineties. The complete master tape in perfect sound quality finally emerged into the wider collector community in early 2007.

The 31 May 1973 WGOE-FM radio broadcast was commercially released in Europe. Since 2005 some enterprising record labels in Europe (mostly 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 Europe.

Bruce Springsteen -- WGOE Radio, Alpha Studios, Richmond VA, 31st May 1973
Bruce Springsteen -- WGOE Radio, Alpha Studios, Richmond VA, 31st May 1973

CD - Echoes (ECHOCD2018) - UK, 2015

This release contains the 31 May 1973 WGOE-FM radio broadcast.
Bruce Springsteen -- WGOE Radio, Alpha Studios, Richmond VA, 31st May 1973
Bruce Springsteen -- WGOE Radio, Alpha Studios, Richmond VA, 31st May 1973

LP - Echoes (ECHOLP2018) - UK, 2015

This release contains the 31 May 1973 WGOE-FM radio broadcast.
Bruce Springsteen -- Live Sessions: Houston Boston Richmond
Bruce Springsteen -- Live Sessions: Houston Boston Richmond

Digital album - Wyte Myce (no catalog number) - UK, 2015

This is a download-only digital album. It contains the 31 May 1973 WGOE-FM radio broadcast, part of the 09 Mar 1974 KLOL-FM radio broadcast, and the 09 Apr 1974 WBCN-FM radio broadcast.
Bruce Springsteen -- Acoustic Radio 1973
Bruce Springsteen -- Acoustic Radio 1973

CD - Good Ship Funke (GSF006) - UK, 2015

This release contains the 09 Jan 1973 WBCN-FM radio broadcast and the 31 May 1973 WGOE-FM radio broadcast.
Bruce Springsteen -- The 1973 Acoustic Radio Sessions
Bruce Springsteen -- The 1973 Acoustic Radio Sessions

2xLP - Let Them Eat Vinyl (LETV374LP) - UK, 2015

This release contains the 09 Jan 1973 WBCN-FM radio broadcast and the 31 May 1973 WGOE-FM radio broadcast.
Bruce Springsteen -- WGOE Radio, Alpha Studios, Richmond, VA. 31st May 1973
Bruce Springsteen -- WGOE Radio, Alpha Studios, Richmond, VA. 31st May 1973

LP - Bad Joker (BOSS 5-2011) - EU, 2016

This release contains the 31 May 1973 WGOE-FM radio broadcast.
Bruce Springsteen -- Acoustic Radio Broadcast Collection
Bruce Springsteen -- Acoustic Radio Broadcast Collection

2xCD - The Broadcast Archive (BSCD6047) - UK, 2017

This release contains the 09 Jan 1973 WBCN-FM radio broadcast, the 31 May 1973 WGOE-FM radio broadcast, the 09 Mar 1974 KLOL-FM radio broadcast, and the 09 Apr 1974 WBCN-FM radio broadcast. This is a repackaging of Good Ship Funke's Acoustic Radio 1973 and Acoustic Radio 1974.
Bruce Springsteen -- Satin Doll
Bruce Springsteen -- Satin Doll

LP - Roxborough Music (ROXMB001) - UK, 2017

This release contains the 09 Jan 1973 WBCN-FM radio broadcast and the 31 May 1973 WGOE-FM radio broadcast.

Credits / References

Thanks Jake (ol'catfishinthelake at BTX and Greasy Lake). Most of the above info about this radio performance 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: 08 Jan 2012