On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post everyday (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be…
P.P. Arnold – The First Cut Is the Deepest (1967)
We are combining two countries today, dear reader, with our guest P.P. Arnold being born in California but her solo career would be launched in the UK, assisted by Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones who saw her potential. Arnold had married young and had children but left her abusive husband. With the support of her parents, she was able to pursue a career in music. In 1967 a songwriter named Cat Stevens penned a piece called The First Cut Is the Deepest and sold it to P.P. Arnold who recorded the first version and the one 1001 Songs have chosen for their list.
The First Cut Is the Deepest is tweaked slightly from Stevens’ original composition with Arnold being the narrator who has been hurt by a man, whereas the song was previously about a man whose heart has been broken by a woman. In the song, Arnold is a narrator who is potentially on the brink of finding love again with a new man but she warns him that she is fragile, she has been badly hurt and that the pain is still very raw. She sounds ready to take a chance with this new guy but it’s not going to be easy.
I was previously familiar with The First Cut Is the Deepest but in the form of Rod Stewart’s version from 1977 which topped the UK charts alongside I Don’t Want to Talk About It. Arnold’s version is sung beautifully and I particularly liked how the narrative is switched so we have a woman’s perspective on the agony of lost love. As a result, this sounds very different to the Rod Stewart version I know and I feel that comparisons are not really fair.
Favourite songs so far:
Ben E. King – Stand By Me (1961)
The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)
Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)
The Who – Substitute (1966)
The Rolling Stones – Paint It Black (1966)
The Beach Boys – God Only Knows (1966)
The Doors – The End (1967)
The Kinks – Waterloo Sunset (1967)
The Beatles – A Day in the Life (1967)
Procol Harum – A Whiter Shade of Pale (1967)