The song has been widely recorded and has become a hit single for five different artists: P. P. Arnold (1967), Keith Hampshire (1973), Rod Stewart (1977), Dawn Penn (1994), Papa Dee (1995) and Sheryl Crow (2003).
Stevens made a demo-recording of ‘The First Cut Is the Deepest’ in 1965 but originally hoped to become a songwriter. He wrote the song earlier to promote his songs to other artists but did not record it as his own performance until early October 1967 with guitarist Big Jim Sullivan. It did not appear until his second album, ‘New Masters’ when it was released in December 1967. He sold the song for £30 to P.P. Arnold, and it became a huge hit for her, as well as an international hit for Keith Hampshire, Rod Stewart, and Sheryl Crow. The song has won Stevens songwriting awards, including two consecutive ASCAP songwriting awards for ‘Song-writer of the Year’ in 2005 and 2006.
Written one year before my first marriage, by the time that Rod Stewart hit the Number 1 charts with this song in 1977, I was well established as a Probation Officer in Huddersfield. Many of the clients I worked with at the time had displayed suicidal tendencies in the past, some had eating disorders, many self-harmed, and a large number had an emotional disturbance, having been badly let down by a lover or marriage partner and finding themselves unable to give their trust to another.
I found this syndrome of ‘not being able to trust again’ as being one of their greatest impediments to emotionally resolving past negative experiences and being able to move on with their life. Indeed, I would say that the first year’s contact with any client I was eventually able to help, was largely taken up with earning their trust. This was crucial and represented the greatest worker hurdle of all to overcome. Before the worker could obtain the client’s trust, there was simply no way they would enable you to help them.
As I read the many accounts and comments of many of my Facebook friends today, I can tell that many of them are still stuck in this hurtful, non-trusting rut. It is important to understand that you essentially become the type of person you tell yourself you are.
We all engage in self-talk constantly. Indeed, 'self-talk' is a natural process of the mind. Such self-talk can be either positive or negative to one’s health, attitude, expectations and overall disposition. Tell oneself it can be done, and that you can do it, and your chances of doing it will significantly increase to the extent that you will most probably do it! Tell yourself that you will achieve a more negative outcome and you will be engaging in a self-fulfilling prophesy of failure. This is virtually true in respect of all things that are humanly possible within one’s personal resources at one’s disposal at any given moment in time.
The precise nature of our self-talk either weakens us or strengthens us! Self-talk reinforces the belief systems that we establish in our behaviour patterns and our belief systems (made up of both rational and irrational beliefs) govern our overall behaviour and greatly influence our response patterns (how one is liable to react in given situations). The simple truth with self-talk is that we can change it as quickly as we adopted it if we want to. Also, our self-talk patterns are carried from one situation to another in like manner. If for example, you tell yourself that you cannot stand this or that, not only are you telling yourself a palpable untruth, but until you change this irrational self-talk you will take your ‘I can’t stand it' attitude and irrational belief into the next situation/relationship, and the next after that! The lie that all holders of the ‘I can’t stand it’ belief tell themselves is that whilst they are whining ‘I can’t stand it! I can’t stand it!’ the one thing they are indisputably doing is ‘standing it’. They may not desire it, they may not like it or even want it, but that is not the same as ‘not standing it!’
The same is true of all self-talk and all irrational beliefs (beliefs that cannot be factually defended). Our belief systems will hold many irrational beliefs; which although sometimes harmless to hold, can be beneficial to believe; even though they cannot be empirically proven to be factual. Believing in a God would represent an unharmful belief system that can benefit a person for instance by influencing their behaviour positively in a 'Christian' manner. On balance, however, the holding of irrational belief systems (such beliefs, for instance, that support racist and discriminatory attitudes and behaviour, is irrational, harmful and unhealthy).
So, if a person tells themselves ‘I can never love/trust again’, their actions will do everything humanly possible to ensure ‘that they do not love/trust again’. In short; think good or bad and you will feel good or bad and will probably do good or bad correspondingly. The views expressed in this paragraph constitute my entire life’s learning and research into human behaviour and response patterns over a thirty-year period which has been written about and reported on in continental social and medical journals and books.
This song reminds me of this belief syndrome and holding a rational and positive belief. The most pertinent line in the song says, “I’ll try to love again but I know that the first cut is the deepest’ (expressing a positive willingness to move on with one’s life whilst fully acknowledging their previous hurtful emotional experience). Trust me, in this respect, I know what I am talking about. Had it not been for a lifetime of positive self-talk, and the holding of a mostly rational belief system, I could not have achieved a fraction of the things I managed to achieve. Had it not been for my positive self-talk and belief pattern since I was medically diagnosed with terminal blood cancer in early 2013, I would not be alive today. Had it not been for my ability to believe in the power of goodness, there is simply no way that my body would have been able to deal with five operations under a full anaesthetic and twenty sessions of radiotherapy over the past 18 months.
I am not a miracle man, merely a positive thinking man whose belief system in self, God and my fellow beings acts for me in the most healthy and self-enhancing of ways.
Love and peace Bill xxx