Live 02 Jun 1973 version
Well, the machinist climbs his Ferris wheel like a brave
And the fire eater's lyin' in a pool of sweat, victim of the heat wave
Behind the tent, the hired hand tightens his legs on the sword swallower's blade
The 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 sniffing popcorn
Yeah, the midget licks his fingers and suffers Missy Bimbo's scorn
And 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
Oh, and suitcase in his hand, stealing silently away from the circus grounds
And the highway's haunted by those carnival sounds
They dance like a great greasepaint ghost on the wind
The man in baggy pants, a lonely face, 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 the barker romances with a junkie, she's got a flat tire
And now the elephants dance real funky, and the band plays like a jungle fire
The 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, to his dimly lit trailer
And the Ferris wheel turns and turns like it ain't ever gonna stop
And the circuit boss leans over, whispers in the little boy's ear, "Hey son, you wanna try the big top?"
All aboard, Nebraska's our next stop
[Spoken outro:] (chuckles) Oh, yeah.
The above lyrics are for the live 02 Jun 1973 radio performance of WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY as broadcast on Bethesda's WHFS-FM. The song was played in acoustic version, with Bruce Springsteen on guitar, Danny Federici on accordion, and Garry Tallent on tuba. This version is similar to the album version, but Springsteen omits the "And the flying Zambinis..." and "And the ringmaster..." lines in the third verse.
Bruce Springsteen's 02 Jun 1973 radio performance was broadcast live on Bethesda's WHFS-FM. The show took place at the radio station in Bethesda, MD, and was hosted by DJ Donald "Cerphe" Colwell, a local radio legend who was one of Springsteen's biggest early supporters. Colwell also conducted an in-station interview with Bruce during the show. The master tape of this radio performance is is not circulating, but what is believed to be the complete radio show was taped by a listener and has since circulated among fans, but the sound quality is only fair.
Thanks Jake (ol'catfishinthelake at BTX and Greasy Lake). Most of the above info about this radio performance is taken from Brucebase.
List of available versions of WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY on this website:WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY [Album version]