Bob Dylan - Day of the locusts

First performance: no live dates


Bruce never performed the song but an undated Bruce handwritten lyrics sheet of Bob Dylan's 'Day of the locusts' surfaced in July 2022 when it was auctioned by Goldin Auctions. Springsteen wrote the lyrics in blue ballpoint pen on a sheet of lined notebook paper. It is unknown if he wrote down the lyrics in preparation for a live performance.


Day of the locusts is a song written by Bob Dylan and released on his 1970 album New Morning. It is the second song on Bob Dylan's eleventh studio album New Morning.
"Day of the Locusts" is a cynical piece of work that Dylan's June 1970 experience at Princeton University inspired. David Crosby was present, and later commented: "Sara was trying to get Bob to go to Princeton University, where he was being presented with an honorary doctorate. Bob did not want to go. I said, 'C'mon, Bob it's an honor!' Sara and I both worked on him for a long time. Finally, he agreed. I had a car outside, a big limousine. That was the first thing he didn't like. We smoked another joint on the way and I noticed Dylan getting really quite paranoid about it. When we arrived at Princeton, they took us to a little room and Bob was asked to wear a cap and gown. He refused outright. They said, 'We won't give you the degree if you don't wear this.' Dylan said, 'Fine. I didn't ask for it in the first place.'...Finally we convinced him to wear the cap and gown."

The song's lyrics refer to Brood X of the 17-year periodical cicada (often misidentified as "locusts"), whose sounds blanketed Princeton at the time of his visit:

"Sure was glad to get out of there alive.
And the locusts sang such a sweet melody.
and the locusts sang with a high whinin' trill,
Yeah, the locusts sang and they was singing for me..."

In a 2008 interview with the Aspen Institute, Crosby revealed that a line in the song, "The man next to me, his head was exploding", was in reference to Crosby's presence during the event.

Other cover versions

Bruce on the artist

2021-01-20 SiriusXM Studio, New York City
Bruce plays the song during his 17th episode of 'From My Home To Yours' . ( in the version of Neil Young) The episode was entitled "Lawyers, Guns & Money: An Inaugural Special". Later this day Bruce will perform at the inauguration special.
"The first time that I heard Bob Dylan I was in the car with my mother, and we were listening to, I think, maybe WMCA, and on came that snare shot that sounded like somebody kicked open the door to your mind, from ‘Like a Rolling Stone.’ And my mother, who was – she was no stiff with rock and roll, she liked the music, she listened – she sat there for a minute, she looked at me, and she said, ‘That guy can’t sing.’ But I knew she was wrong. I sat there, I didn’t say nothin’, but I knew that I was listening to the toughest voice that I had ever heard. It was lean, and it sounded somehow simultaneously young and adult, and I ran out and I bought the single. And I came home, I ran home, and I put it on my 45, and they must have made a mistake at the factory, because a Lenny Welch song came on. And the label was wrong, so I ran back, and I got it, and I played it, then I went out and I got Highway 61, and it was all I played for weeks. I looked at the cover, with Bob, with that satin blue jacket and the Triumph Motorcycle shirt. And when I was a kid, Bob’s voice somehow – it thrilled and scared me. It made me feel kind of irresponsibly innocent. And it still does. But it reached down and touched what little worldliness I think a 15-year-old kid, in high school, in New Jersey had in him at the time. Dylan was – he was a revolutionary, man, the way that Elvis freed your body, Bob freed your mind. And he showed us that just because the music was innately physical, it did not mean that it was anti-intellect. He had the vision and the talent to expand a pop song until it contained the whole world. He invented a new way a pop singer could sound. He broke through the limitations of what a recording artist could achieve, and he changed the face of rock and roll forever and ever. Without Bob, the Beatles wouldn’t have made Sergeant Pepper, maybe the Beach Boys wouldn’t have made Pet Sounds, the Sex Pistols wouldn’t have made ‘God Save the Queen,’ U2 wouldn’t have done ‘Pride in the Name of Love,’ Marvin Gaye wouldn’t have done ‘What’s Goin’On,’ Grandmaster Flash might not have done ‘The Message,’ and the Count Five could not have done ‘Psychotic Reaction.’ And there never would have been a group named the Electric Prunes, that’s for sure. But the fact is that, to this day, where great rock music is being made, there is the shadow of Bob Dylan over and over and over again. And Bob’s own modern work has gone unjustly under-appreciated for having to stand in that shadow. If a young songwriter – if there was a young guy out there writing ‘Sweetheart Like Me,’ writing the Empire Burlesque album, writing ‘Every Grain of Sand,’ they’d be calling him the new Bob Dylan. That’s all the nice stuff that I wrote out to say about him. Now it’s about three months ago, I was watching TV, and the Rolling Stones special came on, and Bob came on, and he was in a real cranky mood, it seemed like, and he was kind of bitchin’ and moaning about how his fans don’t know him, and nobody knows him. And they come up to him on the street, and kind of treat him like a long-lost brother or something. And speaking as fan, I guess when I was 15, and I heard ‘Like a Rolling Stone,’ I heard a guy that, like I’ve never heard before or since. A guy that had the guts to take on the whole world, and made me feel like I had ’em too. And maybe some people mistook that voice to be saying somehow that you were gonna do the job for ’em. And as we know, as we grow older, that there isn’t anybody out there that can do that job for anybody else. So I’m just here tonight to say thanks, to say that I wouldn’t be here without you, to say that there isn’t a soul in this room who does not owe you their thanks. And to steal a line from one of your songs, whether you like it or not, ‘you was the brother that I never had.’ Congratulations."


Oh the benches were stained with tears and perspiration
The birdies were flying from tree to tree
There was little to say, there was no conversation
As I stepped to the stage to pick up my degree

And the locusts sang off in the distance
Yeah, and the locusts sang such a sweet melody
Oh the locusts sang off in the distance
Yeah the locusts sang and they were singing for me

I glanced into the chamber where the judges were talking
Darkness was everywhere, it smelled like a tomb
I was ready to leave, I was already walking
But the next time I looked, there was light in the room

And the locusts sang, yeah, it give me a chill
Oh, the locusts sang such a sweet melody
Oh the locusts sang that high whining trill
Yeah, the locusts sang, and they were singing for me

Outside of the gates the trucks were unloading
The weather was hot, a nearly 90 degrees
The man standing next to me, his head was exploding
Whoa I was praying the pieces wouldn't fall on me

Yeah, and the locusts sang off in the distance
Yeah, the locusts sang such a sweet melody
Oh the locusts sang off in the distance
Now the locusts sang and they were singing for me

I put down my robe, I picked up my diploma
Took hold of my sweetheart and away we did drive
Straight for the hills, the black hills of Dakota
Sure was glad to get out of there alive

And the locusts sang, whoa, it give me a chill
Yeah, the locusts sang such a sweet melody
And the locusts sang with that high whining trill
Yeah, the locusts sang and they was singing for me
Singing for me, whoa, singing for me