"The First Cut Is the Deepest
" is a 1967 song
written and sung by Cat Stevens
. It has become a hit single for five different artists: P.P. Arnold
(1967), Keith Hampshire
(1973), Rod Stewart
(1977) Sheryl Crow
(2003), and James Morrison
(2006). The song is covered by more than a dozen other musicians as well.
Cat Stevens original
The song concerns someone apprehensive about entering a new romantic relationship because they are still suffering from being hurt by their first love. Without listening closely, the chorus might seem ambiguous:
- The first cut is the deepest, Baby I know —
- The first cut is the deepest
- 'Cause when it comes to being lucky, she's cursed
- When it comes to lovin' me, she's worst
- But when it comes to being loved, she's first
- That's how I know.
However, the song continues:
- I still want you by my side
- Just to help to dry the tears that I've cried
- And I'm sure gonna give you a try.. just remember
- The first cut is the deepest..
While the Stevens, Arnold and Hampshire recordings sang this chorus intact, the Stewart and Crow renditions omitted the last two lines, an omission which might give the listener a different sense of the song.
Stevens made a demo recording of "The First Cut Is the Deepest" earlier as part of the process of promoting his songs to other artists, but did not record it as his own performance until early October 1967, and it did not appear until his second album, New Masters, was released in December 1967. He sold the song for £30 to P.P. Arnold becoming a huge hit for her, and an international hit, for Keith Hampshire, Rod Stewart, Linda Ronstadt, James Morrison, and Sheryl Crow, and has won several song-writing awards, including two ASCAP songwriting awards- one being "Songwriter of the Year in 2006.
P. P. Arnold version
African-American expatriate singer P.P. Arnold, popular in the United Kingdom, had the first hit with the song, reaching number 18 on the UK Singles Chart with her cover in May 1967, well ahead of the song appearing on Stevens' album. The Arnold hit featured an up-tempo, soulful vocal set against harpsichord, horns, and strings.
Noted 1960s British filmmaker Peter Lorrimer Whitehead made a primordial music video clip for the song, featuring a non-singing Arnold cavorting on a British beach alongside The Small Faces.
Stevens is said to have never released his original recording as a single, because he felt Arnold's version was definitive.
Norma Frazer Reggae version
In 1967 Norma Frazer
sang the song over a production from Studio One
in Kingston, Jamaica. That version has since been covered by many reggae artists including K.C. White
, Joy White
, Kasheif Lindo
and Dawn Penn
. Also performed by Anthony B August 22,2008 in columbus, Ohio.
Keith Hampshire version
Canadian singer and covers expert Keith Hampshire
had a number one hit in Canada
in May 1973 with his recording of the song.
Linda Ronstadt version
Country rock vocalist, Linda Ronstadt
, performed the song on ABC
's In Concert
in a show starring Cat Stevens
. Held on November 9
, with network naming the event "The Moon And Stars Concert". Other than this live performance, the song was never released by Linda Ronstadt on a single or on any album. The clip is widely available on YouTube
. This version changes the lyrics slightly, to "'Cause when it comes to being lucky, I'm worst, When it comes to lovin' me, he's worst".
Rod Stewart version
The most popular version of the song in the United Kingdom has been the one by Rod Stewart, which was recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio
in Muscle Shoals
and appeared on his 1976 album A Night on the Town
. It was released as a double A-side single with "I Don't Want to Talk About It
". As such it was a huge success, and spent four weeks at number one on the UK Singles Chart
in May 1977, and also reached #21 on the Billboard Hot 100
in the U.S.
A music video clip was made for this recording, featuring Stewart lip-synching the song as he wandered in a formal garden with an elaborate fountain.
Sheryl Crow covers
Sheryl Crow's version was the first of two singles released to promote her 2003 The Very Best of Sheryl Crow compilation album. It was one of Crow's biggest radio hits, remaining 36 weeks in the Billboard Hot 100. It was also Crow's first Top 40 solo country hit, following the success of her hit duet with Kid Rock, "Picture". The song topped the Airplay charts in the U.S. and became a platinum seller, also reaching #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
The music video for "The First Cut Is the Deepest", directed by Wayne Isham, features Crow in a rocky desert singing with her guitar, riding horses and interacting in a cowboy environment.
The single was nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards, losing to "Sunrise" by Norah Jones.
Chart positions: #14 (U.S.); #37 (UK); #31 (Austria); #13 (Ireland); #19 (New Zealand); #10 (Portugal); #35 US Country; #1 US Adult Contemporary; #50 (Australia)
The song assisted James Morrison in his rise to stardom, particularly in the United States, U.K., and Germany.
This version of the song is on the video game Karaoke Revolution Volume 2.
In addition to the renditions already mentioned, the song has been recorded or performed by many other artists, including: