Bob Dylan

I Threw It All Away

Composed by Bob Dylan

Song Review by

“I Threw It All Away” is one of the finer moments on Dylan’s Nashville Skyline. The country ballad consists of an unadorned, compressed song structure: intro, two verses, a bridge, and final verse -- and lyrically, Dylan exhibits a simplicity of expression absent in earlier material. Even compared to much of the previous album John Wesley Harding, which was simple yet tauntingly elliptic, “I Threw It All Away” cuts to the chase with calm assurance.With crackerjack Nashville studio musicians backing him up on organ, bass, drums and acoustic guitar, Dylan delivers a world-wise lesson in life in his newfound soft country crooner voice: “I once held her in my arms / she said she would always stay / but I was cruel / I treated her like a fool / I threw it all away.” We’re a far cry from the surrealistic wordplay of Blonde on Blonde, yet Dylan proves his mettle at penning a craftsmanlike ballad in the tradition of Hank Williams. It would prove to be a minor country-rock classic. The message is simple: the singer lost the girl, he lost his world, and because “love is all there is” and all you need (an oblique reference to the Beatles’ “All You Need is Love” perhaps?), he concludes by saying if you find that special someone, don’t let her go by throwing it all away. The melodic structure nicely echoes the pain and bitterness in line three of each verse (“But I was cruel”, “I must have been mad”, “For one thing’s that’s certain”) by reaching high for a dissonant blues pitch out of range from the rest of the melody. A live version appeared on Hard Rain, jacked up with strained, mournful vocals, an electrified arrangement courtesy of the road-tested Rolling Thunder backup band and modified lyrics by Dylan. The tune continues to speak to other artists and has been covered by Elvis Costello, Yo La Tengo, Jimmy LaFave, and Scott Walker.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Nashville Skyline 1969 Columbia 2:26
Hard Rain 1976 Columbia 3:18
7 Years of Bad Luck 1993 spank 2:43
The Genuine Bootleg Series 1996
Nashville Skyline/New Morning/John Wesley Harding 1997 Legacy / Columbia 2:26
The Essential Bob Dylan 2000 Sony Music Distribution 2:23
Bob Dylan [Limited Edition Hybrid SACD Set] 2003 Legacy 2:26
Iden & Tity 2004 Sony Music Distribution 2:24
Nashville Skyline/John Wesley Harding 2006 Sony Music Distribution 2:26
The Music Never Stopped 2011
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Rhino 2:21
Another Self Portrait (1969-1971): The Bootleg Series, Vol. 10 2013 Audiosonic / Columbia 3:07
The Complete Album Collection, Vol. 1 2013 Columbia / Sony Legacy 2:23
Beyond Here Lies Nothin': The Collection Camden / Sony Music 2:23
The Legendary Broadcasts: 1969 - 1984 BDA / Bob Dylan Archive 2:22
blue highlight denotes editor's pick