Classic songs Music Music reviews

Classic Songs: ‘Fast Car’ by Tracy Chapman.

Some of the best acoustic arrangements have been written with simplicity in mind, especially in terms of chord changes, but that said they are almost always heavy on sentiment or emotional punch. I guess that is why I’m generally a sucker for acoustic love songs, whether it’s something like The Trapeze Swinger by Iron & Wine or What Is Love by Lisa Mitchell. But not all acoustic arrangements are love songs, in fact, most folk rock arrangements that I listen to, are intimate stories and messages about life, hardship, equality and so on. Leading the way with songs about our human experience in recent memory are musicians like Phoebe Bridgers with her acclaimed album Punisher.  

Some thirty years ago, Tracy Chapman wrote one of the greatest self-penned songs of her generation called Fast Car. In truth, it’s probably the only song that I remember from her self-titled debut released back in 1988. It is a story about a young woman ending an unhappy relationship and moving on quickly from her predicament to find herself. The repetition of the line “You got a fast car…” is somewhat of a metaphor for striving forward towards a better life (longing) and hopefulness. Interestingly, despite its length, at almost five minutes, it was played to death on Melbourne radio here in the late ‘80s, and obviously for good reason. It’s a damn good song! Over the years it has been covered by many artists and it has even been turned into a dance remix! To hear the original played again more recently (on the radio) reminded me of its soulful timeless charm. I might be playing it for a while yet. Enjoy!

Robert Horvat is a Melbourne based blogger. He believes that the world is round and that art is one of our most important treasures. He has seen far too many classic films and believes coffee runs through his veins. As a student of history, he favours ancient and medieval history. Music pretty much rules his life and inspires his moods. Favourite artists include The Beatles, Pearl Jam, Garbage and Lana Del Rey.

3 comments on “Classic Songs: ‘Fast Car’ by Tracy Chapman.

  1. I just heard this song on the radio last week. I had forgotten how great it is. You are right to call it timeless!

  2. One of my all time favorite songs. It was actually on one of our radio stations last week and I made the kids listen to it and explain how talented this woman is and that they should go back and listen to this album. They did not because Dad knows nothing and they don’t listen to their father.

  3. Truly one of the best songs of the 1980s.

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