Cuts Like A Knife
Recording Artist: Bryan Adams
Writers: Jim Vallance
Bryan Adams
Date Written: April 1982 / Vancouver Canada
Albums: Cuts Like A Knife (A&M Records, 1983)
Live Live Live (A&M Records, 1988)
So Far So Good (A&M Records, 1993)
Bryan Adams Unplugged (A&M Records, 1997)
Anthology (A&M Records, 2005)
Icon (Universal, 2010)
Bare Bones (2010)
Ultimate (Polydor, 2017)
Charts: #6 - Billboard Top Tracks Chart / 1983 (24 weeks on the chart)
#12 - The Record (Canada) / May 2, 1983 (11 weeks on the chart)
#15 - Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart / August 1983 (14 weeks on the chart)
Single cover 1983
1983 - Procan Award (Performing Rights Organization of Canada)
1983 - Gold Album Award (Canada)
1983 - Platinum Album Award (Canada)
1983 - Gold Album Award (USA)
1983 - Platinum Album Award (USA)
1984 - Juno Award Nomination (Canada) for Single of the Year
1984 - Juno Award (Canada) for Composer of the Year
2004 - Gold Album Award (Australia)
2007 - SOCAN Classics Award for 100,000 radio performances in Canada
Audio 1:
From the album "Cuts Like A Knife" (1983)

Bryan Adams: rhythm guitar, vocal
Keith Scott: rhythm guitar, lead guitar
Tommy Mandel: organ
Dave Taylor: bass
Mickey Curry: drums
Backing vocals: Bryan Adams, Bruce Adams, Keith Scott, Jim Wesley, Dave Taylor, M. Simpson, K. Davies, L. Frenette
Produced by Bob Clearmountain and Bryan Adams.  Recorded by Bob Clearmountain, August 1982, at Little Mountain Sound (Vancouver) and the Power Station (New York).  Mixed by Bob Clearmountain at the Power Station (New York) and Le Studio, Morin Heights, Quebec.
Audio 2:
  From the album "Bryan Adams Unplugged" (1997)

Bryan Adams: guitar, vocal
Keith Scott: guitar
Tommy Mandel: keyboards
Patrick Leonard: keyboards
Dave Taylor: bass
Mickey Curry: drums
Audio 3:
From the album "Bare Bones" (2010)

Bryan Adams: acoustic guitar, vocal
Produced by Bryan Adams. Recorded by Ben Dobie at the Anderson Center for the Performing Arts in Binghamton, New York, June 14, 2010.   Mixed by Bob Clearmountain at Mix This, Los Angeles California.
"Cuts Like A Knife" was the first real "hit" for Bryan and I as co-writers. The single reached #15 on the U.S.A. Billboard singles chart in August 1983 and helped take Bryan’s career to the next level.

Even though "Cuts Like A Knife" went higher on the Canadian charts (#9) I've always considered the U.S. chart position (#15) to be a greater indication of the song's success.

The reason?

Canadian charts are rigged in favour of Canadian artists. In 1972 the Canadian government introduced "CanCon" (Canadian content), a regulation which forces Canadian radio stations to devote 40% of their air-time to music that was composed, performed, produced or published by a Canadian. 

So, when you have a "hit" in Canada, you always wonder:  was it really a "hit", or was there unfair advantage at play? As a result, I've never been in favour of CanCon.
A big thrill for me was the Rainforest Fund concert at Carnegie Hall on May 13, 2010 when Bruce Springsteen performed "Cuts Like A Knife". Click on the image of Bruce (above) to see the full performance.
The following is from a 1988 interview that Bryan did with Vancouver's Georgia Straight newspaper, explaining how we came up with the title for the song:

"I think that I'm one of the world's best mumblers, I can mumble some of the best lyrics, but putting them together is another story. I think that's where Jim is really good -- he can piece a story together. It's just a good thing to have the tape rolling when you're recording me. The best example was when we wrote "Cuts Like A Knife", which was just literally a mumble. We looked at each other, rolled the tape back, and it sounded like "cuts like a knife", so we started singing that."

Bryan and I jammed on the chord progression for a while with Bryan singing "it cuts like a knife" over and over.  Eventually I responded with "but it feels so right", and the rest of the song followed from there.
Bryan, circa 2000 >
There's a long tradition in pop music ... songs that employ "na-na-na" choruses:  "Hey Jude" by The Beatles, "Na-Na, Hey-Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye" by Steam, "Lovin, Touchin, Squeezin" by Journey, and "Drops Of Jupiter" by Train, to name a few. Adams and I tapped into that tradition for the out-choruses of "Cuts Like A Knife".

I remember being in the audience at one of Bryan's concerts in Wembley, England, watching tens of thousands of people singing along with the chorus at the end of "Cuts Like A Knife".  For a songwriter it's a strange feeling ... thrilling and humbling at the same time.
Lyrics: Drivin' home this evenin'
I coulda sworn we had it all worked out
You had this boy believin'
Way beyond the shadow of a doubt

Then I heard it on the street
I heard you mighta found somebody new
Well who is he baby - who is he
And tell me what he means to you

I took it all for granted
But how was I to know
That you'd be letting go

Now it cuts like a knife
But it feels so right
It cuts like a knife
But it feels so right

There's times I've 'bin mistaken
There's times I thought I'd 'bin misunderstood
So wait a minute darlin'
Can't you see we did the best we could

This wouldn't be the first time
Things have gone astray
Now you've thrown it all away

And it cuts like a knife
But it feels so right
It cuts like a knife
But it feels so right

Na na na ...