One Tree Hill Fans will remember Sheryl Crow’s guest spot on the show when she sang her radio hit ‘The First Cut is the Deepest’ back in 2004. A little research into this song and you realise what a rich history it has.
Beginning way back in 1965 when Cat Stevens wrote the song and made the demo recording, almost every decade has a version of the song. Steeped in tradition, some of the most well known singers have paid tribute to it.
Cat Stevens gave the song to PP Arnold, a soul singer who had gone solo after touring with the Ike and Tina Turner Revue as an Ikette. With her gutsy rough vocals, the song was a hit and got to Number 18 on the UK charts around May of 1967. Cat Stevens would later put it on his December 1967 album, but never released it as a single, as he thought PP did the song absolute justice. His original version is faster in tempo than versions known today, with the definitive guitar solo opening and 60s style backing vocals.
The song then went through a reggae period with Norma Frazer changing the arrangement, (also released in 1967).
Marcia Griffiths also recorded a reggae type version of the song in 1973.
Keith Hampshire had a Canadian No.1 hit with the song, also back in 1973. With heavy drums and percussion, this is as close to a “rock” version as you can get. The opening is very similar to Sheryl Crow’s, and the backing vocals give it even more intensity.
Linda Ronstadt also covered the song in 1973 and sped it up much like the Cat Stevens version. What an incredible voice she had – sad that she now has Parkinson’s disease and cannot sing a note. The live video of her singing it is a must-see.
One of the most well known versions of ‘First Cut’ is of course Rod Stewart’s 1976 cover. With a longer acoustic intro than other versions, it stayed at No.1 in the UK for 4 weeks in 1977. The tempo is the most similar to Sheryl Crow’s cover.
The 90s saw the song released again when Bad Manners recorded it for their Fat Sound album in 1992. A throw back to its reggae days, the arrangement was changed again.
Which brings us to 2003, when Sheryl Crow’s version hits the radio and is released as a single to her Best Of album. With a slight country feel, the song is a great example of how to make a song relevant for the time, but still staying true to the original melody. The guitar solo gives the song real emotion. The video, shot in Utah, is visually stunning and a credit to Crow.
The version was used on the TV show The Sopranos and of course on One Tree Hill when Sheryl guest starred and did the song acoustically (Haley’s character is completely star struck).
Her version made it to No. 14 on the Billboard charts in the US and No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary for two weeks. Nearly 40 years after the song was written, Sheryl was nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal performance for her version. So, as you watch her on One Tree Hill, you can’t help but feel the song has gone full circle.