Tracy Chapman: The First Black Woman Who Wrote a Top US Country Song

“You’ve got a fast car. I want a ticket to anywhere.”

This is the opening line of the hit 1988 song, ‘Fast Car’ by US singer Tracy Chapman . It’s a wistful tune talking about breaking out of bad situations.

Now after 35 years, the song has reached another milestone. Chapman is the first black woman to have written a number one country song. Earlier this week, the song reached at the top of Billboard’s definitive Country Airplay chart.

Image Courtesy: Spotify

Sam Cooke’s 1964 track ‘Good Times’ had previously reached at the top of the list, when it was covered by Dan Seals in 1990.

Image Courtesy: Singersroom

This is the latest recognition on Tracy’s personal writing on ‘Fast Car’, which she describes as a story of a young beautiful woman who is trying to escape the cycle of poverty. The attempt at escape is described in this line – ‘leave tonight, or live and die this way’ -leads to a job and relationship that is actually dead. In the final reclamation, Chapman writes: ‘Take your fast car and keep on driving.’

Chapman generally avoids publicizing the meaning of a few of her songs. She has also maintained her silence on the growing popularity of Comb’s version.

Image Courtesy: WGBH

But ‘Fast Car’ has managed to hold its power over these past decades. The song reached sixth on the Billboard Hot 100, following it’s 1988 release. The song gained more popularity through Chapman’s performance at Nelson Mandela’s 70th birthday at London’s Wembley Stadium.

‘Fast Car’ topped the charts throughout Europe. Tracy also bagged the Grammy for ‘Best Female Pop Vocal Performance’.

-Kaushiki Sarcar