Live 26 Nov 1996 version
[Spoken intro:] I can't, uh, explain to you what a twisted state of mind I must have been in when I wrote this next song, but I got just the man to help with with it. Come on! (laughs) Come on out! Get in the front. There we are.
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
Fat Lady, Big Mama, Missy Bimbo sits in her chair and yawns
And the man-beast lies in his cage sniffing popcorn
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
God save the human cannonball
And the flying Zambinis watch Margarita do her neck twist
And the ringmaster gets the crowd to count along: "Ninety-five, ninety-six, ninety-seven"
Ragged suitcase in his hand, he steals 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
Man in baggy pants, lonely face, crazy grin
Runnin' home to some small Ohio town
Jesus, send some good women, 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 the elephants dance real funky, and the band play like a jungle fire
Circus town's on the live wire
Strong man, Sampson, lifts the midget, little Tiny Tim, way up, way up on his shoulders
Carries him off 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
The circus boss leans over and whispers in the little boy's ear, "Hey son, you wanna try the big top?"
All aboard, Nebraska's our next stop
[Spoken outro:] Thank you! Thanks!
The above lyrics are for the live 26 Nov 1996 performance of WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY at Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park, NJ, during The Ghost Of Tom Joad Solo Acoustic Tour. The song was played in an acoustic arrangement featuring Bruce Springsteen on acoustic guitar and vocals, plus guests Danny Federici on accordion and Soozie Tyrell on violin.
This was the last of a three-night stand at Paramount Theatre.
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]