Bob Dylan, Flashback

Bob Dylan, Flashback

Flashback: Bob Dylan Recalls 1970 Cicada Swarm at Princeton in 'Day of the Locusts'

Dylan took a very stoned David Crosby to Princeton’s graduation ceremony, and hated every second of it

6/10/2021 7:25:00 PM

Hear Bob Dylan chronicle a 1970 cicada swarm at Princeton on the 'New Morning' classic 'Day of the Locusts.'

Dylan took a very stoned David Crosby to Princeton’s graduation ceremony, and hated every second of it

“Because of the heat and presumably in sympathy with the majority of the day’s 1200 graduating seniors, Dylan at first refused to wear a black robe,” it reads. “When the ceremonies did begin, Dylan put on an academic gown over his dark-blue, pin-striped suit, but refused the ‘mortar-board’ cap. He also tied a white arm-band on, like the majority of the graduating seniors. The band was engraved with the peace symbol and the insignia of the graduating class, a number ’70.'”

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“After the ceremony, Dylan left the stage,” it continues, “took off his robe and with his party, got into a waiting car and drove on down the road.”He was midway through recordingNew Morningat the time, and when he went back into the studio on August 12th, 1970, to finish the album, he had a brand new song called “Day of the Locusts” about his time at Princeton. (Check it out right here.) It’s basically a straight-ahead account of the day, down to the intense heat, Crosby’s head “explodin'” from weed he smoked earlier in the day, and his burning desire to get out of there as soon as possible.

In his 2004 memoirChronicles, Dylan remembers being introduced at the event as “the authentic expression of the disturbed and concerned conscience of Young America.” This did not sit well with him. “I couldn’t believe it!” he writes. “Tricked once more … The sunlight was blocking my vision, but I could still see the faces gawking at me with such strange expressions. I was so mad I wanted to bite myself.”

There were indeed cicadas that day, but it’s clear that Dylan felt that the most irritating locusts were people who swarmed around him wherever he went and burdened him with labels like “the concerned conscience of Young America.” The insects were probably pretty annoying as well.

Read more: Rolling Stone »

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