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Which Cut is the Deepest?
Sheryl Crow's Latest Cover Tune, The First Cut is the Deepest
A psychologically-based review
by Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr. BLT, the Shrink-rappin' rock doc
You can't go wrong with a great classic. It's a truism that rings true, if a bit trite. It's been Rod Stewart's rationale of late, and it's made him one of the top ten recording of 2003 in terms of record sales. Lightning never strikes twice. Is that right? It certainly doesn't apply to "Lightning Rod Stewart" and his treasure troves of big band classics.
Above all, do no harm. That's a quintessential mantra for doctors like myself to follow, but it should also apply to pop stars. How can you go wrong with a great classic? Just ask Britney Spears, who recently single-handedly demolished The Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." Sheryl Crow may lack taste in the manner in which she mixes politics and her celebrity status, but she has a deep appreciation for her musical roots and has enough respect for the classic cuts to avoid "spearing" them to death.
Sheryl Crow shines in her nascent remake of Rod Stewart's remake of a song penned by "The Man Formerly Known as Cat Stevens"--The First Cut is the Deepest." She does as much justice to the tune as Rod Stewart did to Eric Clapton's "Layla," the prime cut on the unplugged collection Stewart released in the early '80s.
If it ain't broke, don't
fix it. Now that's another fine, if overused, axiom. Once again, it doesn't
always apply. There ain't nothing "broke" about Rod Stewart's original
recording of this song. When you hear it, you think his thoughts. You feel
his pain. You feel the cold, razor-sharp edge of the blade as it enters
uninvited. The punctured walls of his vulnerable heart become yours, and
you begin to bleed profusely. Yet, Crow moves into the song like a solicitous
new owner of a once abandoned house, softly turning the house into a home
with a new feel, all her own. The song is at once infused with her style,
her face, her grace, her personality traits, her attitude, and her affective
disposition. She projects her own pain onto the musical canvas and it becomes
every bit as poignant as Stewart's first cut. When I listen to Rod's version
and Sheryl's version back to back, I brace myself for two cuts. The first
cut nearly kills. The second one puts me out of my misery. As a musical
shrink, I'm supposed to be an expert on this, but I swear to you: I can't
tell whether the second or "The First Cut is the Deepest."