Once I had mountains in the palm of my hands
Rivers that ran through every day
But I must have been mad
I never knew what I had
Until I threw it all away…
NASHViLLE SKYLiNE is Bob Dylan’s ninth studio album, released by Columbia Records in April 1969.
The album marked a departure for Dylan, who had previously been known for his poetic folk music and rock n’ roll. NASHViLLE SKYLiNE, displayed his complete immersion into COUNTRY MUSiC – and out of it came a brilliant album. Along with the more basic themes, simple songwriting structures, and domestic feel, it introduced audiences to a softer and more affected country crooner in Dylan.
NASHViLLE SKYLiNE was definitely a departure for the folk and rock music Bob Dylan became famous for in the early 1960’s. When I discovered this 1969 album it quickly became one that I had playing for months. Every song was a favourite. Dylan was and remains a poetical genius, yes, but so many incredible songs of his earlier career get overshadowed in the face of his monster hits. I Threw It All Away is not a political anthem. It doesn’t provide any kind of social commentary. It is however, a song that I wish I could have written. Rather, I should say it feels like a song that could have been written for me. Yet don’t we all feel that way about certain songs? That’s the joy of music, after all. Ultimately, Dylan is being confessional when he croons “Once I had mountains in the palm of my hand, And rivers that ran through ev’ry day, I must have been mad, I never knew what I had, until I threw it all away”. A critic who once put it extremely well offers that that he gives “a glimmer of honesty from a person who has taken love for granted, squandered its rewards, and lived to sing about it.” And this is what most appeals to me; the universality that we have all experienced at one time or another. Or not, if we have been so fortunate. I have been in those shoes. I have made that human error of taking something or someone for granted. And I have lived to sing about it. And it is because of this I connected to it in a way that solidifies it as a standout. Period. To be sure, as difficult as it can be to look back on something and realize that you ‘threw it all away’, the song is not all gloom and doom. There is an implication that a lesson was learned and that there is hope. That hope can be all we need to get by sometimes.