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Cat Stevens Tries To Love Again After A Heartbreak In “The First Cut is the Deepest”

Cat Stevens + The First Cut is the Deepest

Singer P.P. Arnold’s 1967 track “The First Cut is the Deepest” was originally written by British singer-songwriter Cat Stevens. He wrote the track and recorded a demo of the track in ‘65 at the tender age of 17

In an interview with Billboard, where he shared stories behind his beloved classics, he talked about how the song was born from two things. First, his love for R&B – how he would go down to clubs and listen to the latest records coming over from across the Atlantic. And second, his love for Otis Redding, one of the most powerful and influential singer-songwriters during that time. He loved him so much that he tried writing a song for him. 

“It’s very much a soulful tune. My guitar playing wasn’t that clever in those days, so you hear those three little notes, which is pretty basic, but it begins the whole song, and it’s a signature tune,” he said. His version employed Big Jim Sullivan (electric guitar), Herbie Flowers (bass guitar), and Chris Hunt (drums). 

The song has since been covered by multiple artists and has been a hit for six of them – Arnold (whom he sold the song for (£30), Stevens, Keith Hampshire (1973), Rod Stewart (1977), Papa Dee (1995), and Sheryl Crow (2003). And Steven shared that he liked Stewart’s as he thought he did the best job and made it his own. 

Meaning Behind the Song

According to Cat Stevens, the song was partly telling his own story – a breakup he had with one of his first loves. 

The song opens with the painful line, “I would have given you all of my heart / But there’s someone who’s torn it apart.” He then sings of the raw emotions of how deep his first heartbreak cut and carved into him – how she’s cursed and how she’s the worst in loving him. He then delivers the haunting refrain in the chorus, “But when it comes to being loved, she’s first,” which encapsulates the lingering wound and its impact on his heart. And at that moment, he knew that the first cut was the deepest. 

But he tells his new lover that he still wants her by his side, helping him dry the tears that he has cried. Because he knows that he’s going to give love another try, and he’ll do so for her. 

The honest, relatable experience of getting your heart broken and struggling to move on from all that pain and hurt has made this a timeless piece. In addition to that, the song’s melodic hooks and Stevens’ emotive vocals undeniably cemented its status as a classic. 

Catch Cat Steven’s version of “The First Cut is the Deepest” in the video below.

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