Saturday, May 7, 1988

Tracy Chapman charted with “Fast Car”

Fast Car

Tracy Chapman

Writer(s): Tracy Chapman (see lyrics here)

Released: April 6, 1988

First Charted: May 7, 1988

Peak: 6 US, 4 CB, 8 GR, 8 RR, 7 AC, 19 AR, 1 CO, 5 UK, 11 CN, 4 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 2.4 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 163.6 video, 705.24 streaming

Fast Car

Jonas Blue with Dakota

Released: December 4, 2015

First Charted: April 2, 2016

Peak: 98 US, 2 UK, 39 CN, 11 AU (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.6 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 17.10 video, 1038.89 streaming

Fast Car

Luke Combs

Released: April 18, 2023

Peak: 2 BB, 14 BA, 13 DG, 3 AC, 12 A40, 15a CW, 54 UK, 2 CN, 2 AU, 9 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.2 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 47.63 video, 351.01 streaming

Awards (Tracy Chapman):

Click on award for more details.

Awards (Jonas Blue):

Awards (Luke Combs):

About the Song:

“Tracy Chapman was a hardened veteran of Boston coffeehouse gigs (she once got a demo-tape rejection letter suggesting she tune her guitar) when a classmate at Tufts University told his music-publisher dad to check her out. Soon after, she made her 1988 debut, featuring this haunting meditation on escape.” RS Chris Gerard of Metro Weekly describes the song as “a grittily realistic story of a working poor woman trying to escape the cycle of poverty.” WK Critic Dave Marsh called it “an optimistic folk-rock narrative.” WK Chapman said “It’s not really about a car at all…basically it’s about a relationship that doesn’t work out because it’s starting from the wrong place.” SF

Chapman was relatively unknown when she was booked as one of the acts for the Nelson Mandela 70th birthday concert at Wembley Stadium. Her appearance at the June 11, 1988 event served as a catalyst for her career breakthrough. She performed a few songs in the afternoon and thought she was done for the day, but was called back when Stevie Wonder’s performance was delayed. She performed “Fast Car” in front of a huge prime time audience and the song subsequently raced up the charts. SF

It went to #1 in Canada and was a top-ten hit in the United States, the U.K. and Australia. It was nominated for Grammys for Record and Song of the Year. The song got renewed attention in 2011 when Britain’s Got Talent contestant Michael Collings performed the song. Chapman’s original re-charted in the UK, besting its original #5 ranking by one spot. WK

In 2015, British record producer Jonas Blue released a dance version featuring singer Dakota. It reached #2 on the UK charts and hit #1 in Australia, giving the remake greater chart success than the original in those countries. Blue said Chapman’s song was a favorite of his mother’s. WK Among other artists to perform the song: R.E.M., Matchbox 20, and Kelly Clarkson and Chris Daughtry in a duet. BC

The song charted yet again in 2023 when country singer Luke Combs covered it for his Gettin’ Old album. It was released as a single and went all the way to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the country airplay chart. It made Tracy Chapman the first black woman to have a sole songwriting credit on a #1 country song.


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First posted 11/14/2019; last updated 1/7/2024.

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