Live 09 Apr 1974 version
[Bruce Springsteen:] Okay, let's do this... Yeah.
[Radio host:] The tuba is in position.
[Bruce Springsteen:] We got, um, a message here from somewhere that says, um, "Dr. Zoom and the Sonic Boom", that was, that used to be my old band. And requests for a few songs that we're not gonna play. (laughs) But it's nice to know someone still remembers. (laughs) We got, we haven't done those songs in a long time, and, uh... But we're gonna do this song for those people, whoever called in this message. For the guys at the USO Beach! Yeah! The, all those cats down there at the USO Beach. In, uh, Long Branch, New Jersey.
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]
And the midget licks his fingers, 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
A 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 the 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 off down the midway
Past the kids, past the sailors, to his dimly lit trailer
The Ferris wheel turns and turns like it ain't ever gonna stop
And the circus boss leans over, whispers into the little boy's ear, "Hey son, you wanna try the big top?"
All aboard, Nebraska's our next stop
[Bruce Springsteen:] Oh, now, that's good. (laughs) Oh! Sticky valve? Plumber?
[Garry Tallent:] I need a plumber.
[Bruce Springsteen:] Need a plumber for the tuba. Ah.
[Radio host:] You ever wondered what, uh, elephants sound like when they dance, huh?
[Bruce Springsteen:] Yeah.
[Radio host:] That's definitely what elephants must sound like.
The above lyrics are for the live 09 Apr 1974 radio performance of WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY as broadcast on Boston's WBCN-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 Apr 1974 radio performance was broadcast live on Boston's WBCN-FM. The show took place at the radio station in Boston, MA. The complete performance was recorded off the airwaves and has since circulated in excellent quality among fans.
The 09 Apr 1974 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.
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]