2. The locusts sang and they were singing for me.
    –Bob Dylan


Photo courtesy of the Office of Communications

Photo by Dino Palomares

Bob Dylan based his song “Day of the Locusts” about his experience receiving an honorary degree from Princeton in 1970, when commencement speakers fought to be heard over the din of swarming cicadas. “I stepped to the stage to pick up my degree, and the locusts sang off in the distance.” Dylan was introduced as “one of the most creative popular musicians of the last decade… Although he is now approaching the perilous age of 30, his music remains the authentic expression of the disturbed and concerned conscience of young America.” The 1970 commencement was also unusual because many seniors refused to wear customary caps and gowns after the extensive campus turmoil following the expansion of the Vietnam War that spring. The graduating class again broke tradition with its request that FitzRandolph Gate be permanently opened to symbolize greater attentiveness to world affairs beyond campus boundaries.

  • For more song lyric quotations, please see quotation #1 and 36.

  • To learn more about Bob Dylan, see Café Vivian picture #21.

  • To learn more about recipients of Princeton honorary degrees, see quotation #3, 8, 12, 25, and 35, and Café Vivian picture #14, 21, 65, and 86.

  • To learn more about Princeton in the 1960s student protest era, please see Café Vivian picture #106 and 122.

  • To learn more about the history of Princeton commencement, see quotation #2, and Café Vivian picture #16, 21 and 86.