Dylan cover a day number 53: I threw it all away

By Tony Attwood

A list of the previous articles in this series is given at the end of the article.

The point about “I threw it all away”  is that musically it has two outstanding features.  One is the melody (not always Bob’s strongest suit) and the other is the chord sequence.  In fact in this song the chord sequence drives the unexpected developments in the melody.

The song is generally played in the key of C and the opening lines are accompanied by exactly the normal chords from that key: C, A minor, F and G.

But then suddenly with the line “But I was cruel” Bob throws in the utterly unexpected chord of A major, and then instantly returns to the normal and expected chords of a piece written in this key.

The middle 8 (the section that is different from the rest of the piece, starting “Love is all there is”, he again introduces the A major chord, utterly unexpectedly (this time with the lyrics “it can’t be denied”).

There is also one other chord that doesn’t belong in the key of C in a classical sense (the chord of B flat which is used at the start of “Take a tip from” in the middle 8, but that has been used so many times in the blues and rock, that it doesn’t leap out and slap one around the face as the A major chord does.

I’ve never been sure it really works – it sounds too artificial for me – but then who am I to criticise the way Bob writes?

But it is the chord sequence and the melody that marks out the song, and by listening to it in Swedish (one of the infinite number of languages I don’t speak) there is a chance to let the words slip away and appreciate the music.

This is “Jag sumpade alltihop” by Georga


We know what it is going to be straight away because of the melody – but what really puzzles me is the use of the organ after the vocals in the opening lines.  What is that doing there?  What does it add?  (To really appreciate this point, and if you don’t fancy listening to four versions of this song, skip through to the last example and you’ll hear the contrast I am trying to make in my normal laboured way.)

If it is to wake us up, fine we are now awake, so why have it in the second verse as well?  Take out that answering organ chord, and it is a perfectly fine rendition – but with it… well, no.  It sounds like someone trying too hard to do something different.

Moving on, the Peter Viskinde Band want to do something different – and the held chords of the organ do that – but this time it fits perfectly.   It is a straight rendition but the vocalist makes me feel he means it – he is not just going through the motions.  It’s restrained, gentle, and when the second vocalist joins in later on, in a way that one can only just make out, that is a lovely additional touch.

Everyone knows his place, no one gets carried away, and even the late guitar solo fits perfectly (and I say “even” because so often in songs like this the guitarist just uses the occasion to show off – but not here.)  Beautiful.

Jimmy LaFave, in the next example, takes us into a very gentle version, although with maybe a temptation to fill in every moment without the vocals.  But it doesn’t do as much for me as the Viskinde version, because I feel the vocalist is trying to put too much emotion into the song.  The emotion is there anyway, and he has a fine voice, so nothing needs to be pushed.  It just feels a touch overdone to me, and doesn’t quite add the gentle nuances that the previous version offers.

And finally to what is for me the best version of all.

Jacqui Dankworth MBE has all the heritage to have a beautiful voice and an ability to recognise an exquisite arrangement for a beautiful song when she finds one, and she shows that here.  This tears my heartstrings about as far as I am willing to let them be torn on a Saturday morning before I venture into the task of driving the 85 miles to London.

And I think that because Ms Dankworth was born in the county town (Northampton) of the English county I live in (Northamptonshire).  I do love to find trivial connections!   And if you are English and an aficionado of jazz you will know she is the daughter of Cleo Laine and John Dankworth.

This is just gorgeous.  I love it.

I doubt anything could improve on this version, so this is the moment I stop.


Untold Dylan was created in 2008 and is currently published once or twice a day –  sometimes more, sometimes less.  Details of some of our series are given at the top of the page and in the Recent Posts list, which appears both on the right side of the page and at the very foot of the page (helpful if you are reading on a phone).  Some of our past articles which form part of a series are also included on the home page.

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  1. All very well, but it is not possible to ignore the emoting of the the sorrowful emotion of throwing something so valuable all away through the lyrics as well as the feeling of sadness engendered by the style of the music.

  2. There’s a lot of subjectivity involved in the decision as to whether an artist succeeds in doing that – or not.

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