Good Morning. I hope that you are enjoying this weekend, fully vaccinated and boosted, with family and friends.
I have always loved Fast Car. It was haunting and soulful.
Really glad to hear that Chapman is not only getting credit as the first Black woman to write a No1 country hit, but she's getting PAID, because she wrote it solo and owns the rights. #GiftArticle https://t.co/r17hUYueWv
— Isobel Carr (@IsobelCarr) July 14, 2023
Combs’s remake of Chapman’s 1988 hit now dominates the country charts, renewing difficult conversations about diversity in Nashville
Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” is one of those songs that you just feel in your soul: the lyrics about the yearning to escape, the gentle guitar underlying a feeling of despair but also the hope that something better is coming. It can make you cry but also inspire you to belt out the lyrics at the top of your lungs. (“I-eee-I had a feeling that I belonged. I-eee-I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone …”)…
In March, country music star Luke Combs, 33, released a new album, “Gettin’ Old,” that included “Fast Car,” a longtime favorite that he covered during live shows for years. But when the track hit streaming services, it took on a life of its own, racking up enormous numbers and going viral on TikTok. Country radio stations started playing it, and the song was suddenly outpacing Combs’s actual single, “Love You Anyway.” Combs and his team were stunned by the response, and his label eventually started promoting “Fast Car” to country radio as well. Last week, it reached No. 1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart; it was at No. 3 on the all-genre Hot 100 chart, after peaking at No. 2.
To quite a few people, this is cause for yet another celebration in Combs’s whirlwind journey as the genre’s reigning megastar with 16 consecutive No. 1 hits. But it has also prompted a wave of complicated feelings among some listeners and in the Nashville music community. Although many are thrilled to see “Fast Car” back in the spotlight and a new generation discovering Chapman’s work, it’s clouded by the fact that, as a Black queer woman, Chapman, 59, would have almost zero chance of that achievement herself in country music…
There has been a concerted effort from some in Nashville to promote inclusivity, particularly since the industry-wide reckoning after the killing of George Floyd in 2020. But despite some individual success stories, the systemic lack of diversity has persisted. Now that Chapman’s classic is on pace to become one of the biggest songs of Combs’s career, there are uneasy and complex emotional responses.
“I’ve talked to a lot of Black artists about it. …We don’t know how to feel,” Holly said, noting that “it did make things a little bit easier” when Chapman, who hasn’t given an interview in years, sent a brief statement to Billboard last week: “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.’” (A representative for Chapman declined further comment for this story; Combs’s publicist said he was unavailable for an interview.)
“We can continue to celebrate it,” Holly said, “but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be having these conversations.”…
Through it all, one thing is certain: Chapman has now made history. Rolling Stone reported that Chapman, who wrote “Fast Car” by herself, is now the only Black woman to ever have a solo writing credit on a No. 1 country song..
In addition to being pleased by the royalties Chapman is earning from the “Fast Car” cover (Billboard estimated that, because she owns the publishing, she is due a “sizable portion” of Combs’s approximately $500,000 in earnings so far), fans are gratified by the renewed attention on the singer. Aurélie Moulin of France, who has run the definitive Tracy Chapman fan site since 2001 and has social media accounts with more than 2 million combined followers, confirms that discussion of Chapman has “exploded” online — and that the last time a “Fast Car” cover was so hotly debated was when Justin Bieber performed his version in 2016.
Covers of songs can be very powerful.
Two of my favorites:
I Will Always Love You.
Sounds of Silence