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  1. The Bigtop

From the recording The Bigtop

A very dear friend of mine, John Darlowe Boswell, spent about 30 years traveling the entire U.S. and half of Canada making his living as a folksinger. In his mid-40s he crossed paths with the Culpepper and Meriweather Great Combined Circus in the tiny town of Cave Creek, Arizona. At the end of the show the ringmaster invited any able-bodied young men to stick around and help tear down the gear.

John jumped right in. He liked it so much that he left with them the next morning and traveled with the circus for several months. John told me about the experiences he was having and I wrote The Bigtop for him and his circus friends ... mighty fine folks bringing joy to people all along their travels.

Lyrics

THE BIGTOP

Raising the Bigtop for Saturday night in a small Arizona town
Unrolling the canvas, hiking the poles, tying ‘em fast all around
When the riggin’s all up we’ll have six hours rest
Then we’ll put on our show for the town
Then we’ll put on another, then put it to bed
But first all the riggin’ comes down

(CHORUS) We’ll be making the jump in the morning
So we’re striking the canvas tonight
Come tomorrow we’re raising the Bigtop again
We’ll be rolling before it’s good light

I’m a hand in a traveling circus of eighteen
We tour the small Western towns
Giving two shows a night, we’ve done nearly two hundred
In three months since I started out
But next week there’s a break in our schedule
Three days that haven’t been booked as of yet
And I sure hope they won’t be, I need a vacation
It’s prob’ly the last one I’ll get

We’ve been making the jump every morning ...(CHORUS)

Jerry plays organ while Jim swallows fire
Johnny is a jack of all trades
Aerialist Maggie soars over the crowd in the spider web rigging we’ve made
And the throng gets such thrills as the pageant unfolds
There is color and light everywhere
But by five in the morning, if someone should look
He’d find nothing but tire prints here

For we’re making the jump in the morning ...(CHORUS)

On a good night I’ll make forty dollars
On a slow night I’ll make twenty-five
It’s not much of a living, I know
But it serves to keep me and this old truck alive
Till I find something better to do with my life
Or someplace else I’ve never seen
And the circus will go on like before I joined
As though nothing occurred in between

They’ll keep making the jump every morning
So we’re striking the canvas tonight
Come tomorrow they’re raising the Bigtop again
They’ll be rolling before it’s good light

We'll be making the jump in the morning
So we’re striking the canvas tonight
Come tomorrow we’re raising the Bigtop again
We’ll be rolling before it’s good light