When singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman wrote the hit song "Fast Car" in 1988, she never imagined it would resurface 35 years as a No. 1 country hit. Chapman recently talked to Billboard about the cover song performed by country singer Luke Combs and its success in 2023.
"Fast Car" was released on April 6, 1988, one day after Chapman's self-titled debut album. In June, she would perform at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute, pushing the song and Chapman's talent into the foreground. After completing her agreed-upon three songs at the event, due to technical difficulties with surprise Stevie Wonders keyboard, Chapman was sent back on stage with only a guitar and mic. She would then perform "Fast Car" and "Across the Lines," which would shine a line on her talents, causing a spike in sales of her debut album. The album would reach No. 1 on Billboard 200, and "Fast Car,' would rise to No. 6 on Billboard Hot 100.
"I never expected to find myself on the country charts, but I’m honored to be there. I’m happy for Luke and his success and grateful that new fans have found and embraced ‘Fast Car.’”"- Tracy Chapman, Billboard
In April 2023, Luke Combs covered "Fast Car," included in his fourth studio album, Gettin' Old. During the week of July 8, the song topped Billboard’s Country Airplay chart. With this success, Chapman has achieved a significant milestone by becoming the first Black woman to score a country number one as the sole writer.
The song would see Combs receive his first single on contemporary hit radio. His version wasn't to rework Chapman's song but to "honor the perfection that it is." This is evident in the fact that he didn't change the lyrics "I work in the market as a checkout girl." Comb's version is the first country cover of a pop song to chart since 2008 when Blake Shelton covered Michael Bublé's "Home."
At the 31st Grammy Awards in 1989, Chapman would be nominated for several awards, winning Best New Artist, and her debut album would win Best Contemporary Folk Album. "Fast Car" was nominated for three awards, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, the latter of which she would win.
Welcome to Stairway to 11, the classic rock & golden oldies news and opinions site from the FanSided Network. Stairway to 11 is dedicated to providing top-notch classic rock and golden oldies news, views, and original content. This site also serves as a community for like-minded fans to catch up on the latest news and discuss their passion. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.