Live 04 Dec 2001 version
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 the tightrope, yeah, 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
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
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 to save all the 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
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
Carries him on down the midway
Past the kids, past the sailors, and 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?"
Yeah, all aboard, Nebraska's our next stop
The above lyrics are for the live 04 Dec 2001 performance of WILD BILLY'S CIRCUS STORY at Convention Hall in Asbury Park, NJ, during the second of the five 2001 Asbury Park holiday shows. The song was played in a full-band arrangement, with Springsteen backed by The Max Weinberg 7, plus Garry Tallent on tuba.
Bruce Springsteen performed five Asbury Park holiday shows in 2001 (01, 04, 06, 07, and 08 December). These concerts were billed as "Bruce Springsteen with The Max Weinberg 7 and Friends", with The Max Weinberg 7 serving as the house band, and Springsteen bringing guests on and off the stage throughout the shows.
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]