Bruce Springsteen lyrics -- Bruce Springsteen shows -- Bruce Springsteen records

Song title: Wild Billy's circus story

Wild Billy's circus story

The Machinist climbs his ferris wheel like a brave
And the fire-eater’s lyin’ in a pool of sweat victim of the heatwave,
Behind the tent the hired hand tightens his legs on the sword swallowers blade,
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 sniffin’ popcorn and the midget licks his
fingers and suffers Missy Bimbo’s scorn
Circus town’s been born

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 Zambini’s watch Marguarita do her neck twist,
And the ringmaster gets the crowd to count along: 95, 96, 97.

A ragged suitcase in his hand, he steals silently away from the circus grounds,
And the highway’s haunted by the carnival sounds
They dance like a great greasepaint ghost on the wind,
A man in baggy pants, a lonely face, a crazy grin, runnin’ home to some 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,
Circus town’s on the live wire.

And the strong man Sampson lifts the midget, little Tiny Tim, up on his
shoulders, way up, and carries 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 circus boss leans over and whispers into the little boy’s ear, hey son
you want to try the big top?
All aboard, Nebraska’s our next stop.

Notes: Published on "The Wild" and played til 1974. Forgotten until the Shrine Auditorium show 16-Nov-1990. Evolved from Circus song

Statistics from the KILLING FLOOR ( database

Published on the following official releases:

First known live performance: 09/01/1973 Wbcn-FM Studios, Boston,MA ,USA
Last known live performance: 26/02/2014 Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane ,Australia

Song 'history':

Played live 2 time(s) during the so-called 'Greetings Tour' and 6 time(s) during the gigs preceeding the official Born To Run Tour.
Keep in mind that only a small amount of the setlists of these years has surfaced, so it may have been played a lot more.
Apart from the above live performances, the song was recorded during the Greetings / Wild sessions in 1972-73 (and released on THE WILD....)
Played, in acoustic version, at the Christic Shows in LA, 16/17-Nov-1990.
During the Ghost of Tom Joad tour, the song was played 3 times
Played during the Conventional Hall shows in 2001
In the Rising tour, the song was only practiced (09/12/2002 USC Arena, Columbia,SC ,USA, during the soundcheck.) but never played in the regular set.
Just less than a dozen shots during the Devils and Dust tour
Bruce gave this song one only shot through the Magic tour (27/04/2008 Charlotte Bobcats Arena, Charlotte,NC ,USA)
One only performance during the Working on a Dream tour (07/11/2009 Madison Square Garden, New York,NY ,USA)
Played once in the whole Wrecking Ball tour (28/07/2013 Nowlan Park, Kilkenny ,Ireland)
One only rendering for this song in the High Hopes tour (26/02/2014 Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane ,Australia)

The song was also played in informal happenings or off-tour appearances
Data from the database