Live 09 Mar 1974 (KLOL-FM) version
[Bruce Springsteen:] All right, let's do, um... Let's see.. Let's do, uh...
[Radio host:] Do The Journey.
[Bruce Springsteen:] The Journey? (laughs) Let's do, uh, Circus Song! Step right up. You don't play in this one, huh? Step right up. She walks, she talks... little! (laughs) You ready fellows? Okay. This is featuring Garry Tallent.
[Garry Tallent:] Uh oh!
[Bruce Springsteen:] (laughs)
[Garry Tallent:] On the spot!
[Bruce Springsteen:] Better not blow your part!
[Garry Tallent:] On the spot!
[Bruce Springsteen:] Blow your part on the tuba and you've had it, you know, out there in radio land, because it's comes out, it's... Give 'em a little example.
[Garry blows the tuba]
[Bruce Springsteen:] You know, and it doesn't sound good. (chuckles) Right, all right.
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
And circus town's on the shortwave
Well, the runway lies ahead like a great false dawn
Whoa, Fat Lady, Big Mama, Missy Bimbo sits in her chair and yawns
And the man-beast lies in his cage sniffing popcorn [sniffs]
Yeah, 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 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"
A ragged suitcase in his hand, stealing silently away from the circus grounds
Oh, the highway's haunted by them carnival sounds
They dance like a great greasepaint ghost on the wind
The man in baggy pants, a lonely face, a crazy grin
He's runnin' back home to a small Ohio town
Jesus, send some good 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
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 off down the midway
Past the kids and past the sailors, into his dimly lit trailer
The Ferris wheel turns and turns like it ain't ever gonna stop
And the circus boss leans over and whispers into this little boy's ear, he says, "Hey son, you wanna try the big top?"
All aboard, Nebraska's our next stop
[Spoken outro:] Yeah!
The above lyrics are for the live 09 Mar 1974 radio performance of WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY as broadcast on Houston's KLOL-FM. The song was played in acoustic version, with Bruce Springsteen on guitar, Danny Federici on accordion, and Garry Tallent on tuba.
Bruce Springsteen's 09 Mar 1974 radio performance was broadcast live on Houston's KLOL-FM. The show took place on the afternoon of 09 Mar 1974 at the radio station in Houston, TX. This was lengthiest of all Springsteen radio station performances. The complete performance was recorded off the airwaves and has since circulated among fans.
The 09 Mar 1974 KLOL-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.
Thanks Jake (ol'catfishinthelake at BTX and Greasy Lake) for the lyrics help.
List of available versions of WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY on this website:WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY [Album version]