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Tracy Chapman — Fast Car
Album: Tracy Chapman
Avg rating:
7.9

Your rating:
Total ratings: 2496









Released: 1988
Length: 4:52
Plays (last 30 days): 1
You've got a fast car
I wanna ticket to anywhere
Maybe we can make a deal
Maybe together we can get somewhere
Any place is better
Starting from zero, got nothing to lose
Maybe we'll make something
Me, myself, I've got nothing to prove

You've got a fast car
I've got a plan to get us out of here
Been working at the convenience store
Managed to save just a little bit of money
Won't have to drive too far
Just cross the border and into the city
You and I can both get jobs
And finally see what it means to be living

See my old man's got a problem
Live with the bottle, that's the way it is
He says his body's too old for working
His body's too young, to look like his
When mama went off and left him
She wanted more from life than he could give
I said somebody's got to take care of him
So I quit school and that's what I did

You've got a fast car
Is it fast enough so we can fly away?
We gotta make a decision
Leave tonight or live and die this way

Say remember when we were driving, driving in your car
Speed so fast it felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped 'round my shoulder
And I had a feeling that I belonged
I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone

You've got a fast car
We go cruising entertain ourselves
You still ain't got a job
Now I work in the market as a checkout girl
I know things will get better
You'll find work and I'll get promoted
We'll move out of the shelter
Buy a bigger house and live in the suburbs

Say remember when we were driving, driving in your car
Speeds so fast it felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped 'round my shoulder
And I had a feeling that I belonged
I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone

You've got a fast car
I've got a job that pays all our bills
You stay out drinking late at the bar
See more of your friends than you do of your kids
I'd always hoped for better
Thought maybe together you and me'd find it
I got no plans and I ain't going nowhere
So take your fast car and keep on driving

Say remember when we were driving, driving in your car
Speeds so fast it felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped 'round my shoulder
And I had a feeling that I belonged
I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone

You've got a fast car
Is it fast enough so you can fly away?
You gotta make a decision
Leave tonight or live and die this way
Comments (183)add comment
To me that last line messes up the whole song: "You gotta make a decision
/ Leave tonight or live and die this way." She already wants him to leave unless he changes and makes things better. So why does she end the song by telling him his life won't get better if he stays? I've always thought that odd twist of hopelessness at the end was misplaced.
 wychwoods wrote:
Sad lyrics.
 
Sad indeed!  But also sadly too true!!
Never cared for the song but the slide show RP has synced is great!
Sad lyrics.
 saellig668552 wrote:
never forgot her appearance as a "no name" on the nelson mandela tribute concert in wembley as "filler" between stage changes - a shy young girl allone with her guitar, nobody knew her, and left after a couple of song everybody stunned, paralyzed - a magic moment in history of music






 
I felt the same way when I saw her at Human Rights Now in Philadelphia in 1988.  90,000+ fans in JFK Stadium waiting for Sting, Peter Gabriel, and Bruce Springsteen were taken aback by her performance.  Those that came in late... missed out big time!

Unbelievable lyrics; she must have lived it.
Still brings tears to my eyes. 
 Mindahl wrote:
The saddest song ever...  I agree...  But beautiful just the same.
 
After actually paying attention to the lyrics, I'd argue Carly Simon's "That's The Way I Always Heard It Should Be" is right up there too.
The saddest song ever...  I agree...  But beautiful just the same. 
What a beautiful piece of music.
This has not aged a bit. As amateurish sounding then as it is now.
if this isn't a 10 then I don't know what is. Forever and always dedicated to my beautiful and strong mother.
 saellig668552 wrote:
never forgot her appearance as a "no name" on the nelson mandela tribute concert in wembley as "filler" between stage changes - a shy young girl allone with her guitar, nobody knew her, and left after a couple of song everybody stunned, paralyzed - a magic moment in history of music
 
Thank you for posting that. I just looked up Nelson Mandela's 70th birthday tribute concert (on wikipedia), and now I have a lot of videos to watch. I didn't see a DVD. Anyway, Tracy Chapman's role in the event was notable as you say. Her filler was actually her second, unplanned, set, in a spot Stevie Wonder was supposed to play but was having technical difficulties. And, according to the article, her sales shot up after.

[edit. Just watched the video--  wow...]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...
Hugely powerful song!
Makes me wonder  ... how common is this narrative?  "Sad" or "tragic" don't come close to  describing the lyrics.

There but for the grace of God go I.
never forgot her appearance as a "no name" on the nelson mandela tribute concert in wembley as "filler" between stage changes - a shy young girl allone with her guitar, nobody knew her, and left after a couple of song everybody stunned, paralyzed - a magic moment in history of music






30 years ago! Man I am getting old. Still love this track though. That voice...
That voice!!! Still gets me after all these years! Outstanding song!
 jmsmy wrote:
Sometimes Bruce you just can't RUN

 
damn.
Kind of seems like this song is from the perspective of the girl in 'Racing in the Street' who had "...the eyes of one who hates for just being born".
Not 2 weeks ago I said to my daughter that this might be one of the saddest songs ever.
It is sad when your dreams are so modest. 

But I think that Kesha's "Spaceship" (if I got the name right) is even sadder. So much magical thinking in that one. I'm not sure if Kesha meant it that way.
Makes        me         want        to       shoot        myself
 jmsmy wrote:
Sometimes Bruce you just can't RUN

 
I guess it depends on the weight of the baggage you're carrying.
 rdo wrote:

Interesting...I have always loved this song..and...not to brag...but it was effortless and i stiill have never noticed the lyrics...
 
I've always had a tendency to skip over the lyrics and instead focus on the music, namely the vocals. Without even picking a word out of her delivery, Tracy puts forth such emotion in the way she sings, that you can glean so much of the story. But she is such a storyteller and her vocals are so clear & straightforward that it breaks through and really hits me in the gut.

I've performed her a cappella song Behind The Wall many times at open mike shows. I have a good talent for mimicry and when I replicate the quaver in her voice, it really helps communicate the fear & anguish of the "narrator" (it's a story about domestic violence told by a neighbor).
 Grayson wrote:
Yeah Bill. It is one of the saddest songs ever. Need my hankie now. Jeez. Radio play never did kill this one for me. Alas. It's brilliant. 

 
Agreed. One of those rare songs that seems timeless. 
This brings me back to Bangkok 1988, Khao San Road, where it was played constantly.
Yeah Bill. It is one of the saddest songs ever. Need my hankie now. Jeez. Radio play never did kill this one for me. Alas. It's brilliant. 
 pfreet wrote:
This is exactly how I feel. If the goal of music is to generate an emotional response, this is a 10 for sure 

Grayson wrote:
The older I get the closer to my knees this song floors me. 

 

 
Timeless.
Sometimes Bruce you just can't RUN
This is exactly how I feel. If the goal of music is to generate an emotional response, this is a 10 for sure 

Grayson wrote:
The older I get the closer to my knees this song floors me. 

 


I like it.
Brilliant storyteller & lyricist, it's a shame that stations played the crap out of her two big songs so much that people got sick of her music before they really got a chance to appreciate it.


                             
                                 
                                When she broke out with this, I thought it was excruciating. 

                                 Now, I just don't think about it. 

 

 lee_sf wrote:
This song has a directness and honesty of situation that continues to affect me, like, someone who's experienced that shouldn't also be able to sing about it. It doesn't appear that she's been able to do much after that first album, but, credit where credit is due. 

 
Disagree, some of her more recent work is stellar. Not much commercial success admittedly but great music nonetheless. 
The older I get the closer to my knees this song floors me. 
Easily on the top 5 WORST songs ever to defile my ears.
Sometimes I like Tracy, sometimes I don't want to hear her.
Don't know why.
Such is the way of music.
 TerryS wrote:
Dylanesque, but with emotion.

 
Lost on me. Not the slightest trace of Dylan that I can tell. More like John Cougar Mellencamp.
"All bad poetry springs from genuine emotion"-Wilde
Sometimes she just irritates me.
This song has a directness and honesty of situation that continues to affect me, like, someone who's experienced that shouldn't also be able to sing about it. It doesn't appear that she's been able to do much after that first album, but, credit where credit is due. 
Wow - Bill is on a TC kick....heard her everyday I think (and more than once sometimes) the past few days...
Dylanesque, but with emotion.

this is one of the great songs


Amazing childhood!
ole man's got a problem?
i suggest Gil Scott Heron's In The Bottle. Not this. 
 wgsu_1978 wrote:
A beautifully told story.

Not sure why this song and "Don't Give Up" (Gabriel/Bush) affect me so much. I've been pretty lucky in my career. But damn, they do. 
 
THIS.
Really didn't like this song when I was young. Now I am older it gets slightly better though can't rate it higher than a 6. Sorry. 
 wgsu_1978 wrote:
A beautifully told story.
 
I agree totally, it is not the song per se that I like, but the story just "kills" and is being experienced by untold numbers of youth around the world
A beautifully told story.

Not sure why this song and "Don't Give Up" (Gabriel/Bush) affect me so much. I've been pretty lucky in my career. But damn, they do. 
 ThirdRail_33 wrote:
I really don't ever get tired of this song.

 
Me too.
beautiful singer
 joempie wrote:
whine whine - PSD

 
You need to listen and understand more.
whine whine - PSD
7.9?? Well deserved. :)
I likey like!
{#Clap}
Whoa, how u do that thang w the different cars ... Sweet!!
Whoa, how u do that thang w the different cars ... Sweet!! 
Everybody in my mushrooming multitude of homeless camps loves this song...
 paisleydancer66 wrote:
like 18 yr old Glenmorgangie 

 
I agree...not my favorite, but pretty good.
I really don't ever get tired of this song.
like 18 yr old Glenmorgangie 
{#Wave}....... beautiful song from a "GODLIKE" album
 unclehud wrote:
I remember trying desperately hard to like this song, but being deeply frightened by the lyrics and the realization that "there but for the grace of God go I."
 
All these many years later and it is still unsettling.

 
Interesting...I have always loved this song..and...not to brag...but it was effortless and i stiill have never noticed the lyrics...
 Hannio wrote:


I think ol' sloggy might have been simply commenting that it is not possible to play this song to death.  In his opinion, of course.

 
You may well be right, Hannio. But if you are, sloggydog's comment is even more incomprehensible to me. 
 jberko wrote:
Horrible

 
You prefer a "banjo"?
Any comment that doesn't exclaim this to be 'brilliant' is substandard opinionship. How's that for a word?
I remember trying desperately hard to like this song, but being deeply frightened by the lyrics and the realization that "there but for the grace of God go I."
 
All these many years later and it is still unsettling.
 kcar wrote:

Possible. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tracy_Chapman

Tracy performed on the streets and in the clubs around Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA while a student at Tufts University in the '80s. I may have even heard Tracy perform on the streets there although it seems she moved pretty quickly into music venues like Passim. 

She graduated from Tufts in '87 and signed a contract with Elektra records that year. The album "Tracey Chapman" came out in '88. "Fast Car" was the second track on the album and it was her first hit. 

Sloggydog, I assure you that I lived and worked in the Boston area when "Fast Car" hit #6 on Billboard's Hot 100 charts in August '88. The Boston-area FM stations beat that song to death. People I worked and played with in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville would change the channel when that and other TC songs came on. There was a big backlash against the overplay and she became the butt of some jokes for being too earnest and tiresome.  

If you have any more claims of "simply not possible", rockstar, PM me instead of boring other RPers with this discussion.  

 

I think ol' sloggy might have been simply commenting that it is not possible to play this song to death.  In his opinion, of course.
 Sloggydog wrote:

Simply not possible
 
Possible. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tracy_Chapman

Tracy performed on the streets and in the clubs around Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA while a student at Tufts University in the '80s. I may have even heard Tracy perform on the streets there although it seems she moved pretty quickly into music venues like Passim. 

She graduated from Tufts in '87 and signed a contract with Elektra records that year. The album "Tracey Chapman" came out in '88. "Fast Car" was the second track on the album and it was her first hit. 

Sloggydog, I assure you that I lived and worked in the Boston area when "Fast Car" hit #6 on Billboard's Hot 100 charts in August '88. The Boston-area FM stations beat that song to death. People I worked and played with in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville would change the channel when that and other TC songs came on. There was a big backlash against the overplay and she became the butt of some jokes for being too earnest and tiresome.  

If you have any more claims of "simply not possible", rockstar, PM me instead of boring other RPers with this discussion.  
 kcar wrote:
Must PSD. I was living near Cambridge, MA when Tracy made the jump from Harvard Square busker to major singer/songwriter with this song. It got played to death. 
 
Simply not possible
Must PSD. I was living near Cambridge, MA when Tracy made the jump from Harvard Square busker to major singer/songwriter with this song. It got played to death. 

This song is soooo good for the ears...  and the heart...
 

A true ''CLASSIC'' such a sad story of hope when experiencing an addiction, she conveys so much emmotion in all the words. One of my all time favourites, a story of a ''Geographical'' (friends of Bill W will understand)
great flow, tremendously smooth vibe
Horrible


beautiful classic...

 
Solid.
Nice ending...

"You got a fast car
But is it fast enough so you can fly away
You gotta make a decision
You leave tonight or live and die this way"

No one in my hotel room likes this one.


marvelous...  love it...

 
bleeeeeesssshhhhhhh


Everybody in my hotel room loves this song...

 
 rssarma wrote:
This song never fails to please!
 
truth
 Sasha2001 wrote:
Great, here come the waterworks! And I'm sitting at a stoplight next to a concerned looking police officer who has no idea who Tracy Chapman is.
 
Well at least you weren't driving past him "at speeds so fast..." {#Motor}
Born To Run
 Sasha2001 wrote:
Great, here come the waterworks! And I'm sitting at a stoplight next to a concerned looking police officer who has no idea who Tracy Chapman is.

 

Sounds like something that would happen to me    {#Yes}

I have a very emotional response to certain music. Transatlanticism by DCFC never fails to get me, and the last couple of times I've heard The Birds by Elbow on here that one got me too.

I think the bittersweet songs affect me more than sad songs.
Great, here come the waterworks! And I'm sitting at a stoplight next to a concerned looking police officer who has no idea who Tracy Chapman is.

This song never fails to please!
 thewiseking wrote:
this song ISNT classic
unless you define classic as amateurish uninspired singing with overwrought awful poetry

this is about as CLASSIC as hootie and the blowfish
 

Hootie and the Blowfish will be CLASSIC in the future but not right now...( =


love it...


Do you mean she's put on weight?

 
darrenwwwa wrote:
I saw her in concert 2 night ago. She was excellent.
She performed this song a bit fater and with a more of an acoustic sound that worked very well.

 



Tracy Chapman - "Fast car" Live

"This song is simply beautiful, the melody alone shakes my heart..but she's got a voice that shakes your soul!
Music is SO powerful.
Greatest gift.. "

I sing this song in the bar.  It is sadder than most realize.  Good choice of music, makes you feel the lyrics
maybe I'm overly susceptible to "uninspired singing with overwrought awful poetry" but I find it hard
to listen to this without a tear or two coming to the eye.


I like Eddie Murphy's version better...
I saw her in concert 2 night ago. She was excellent.
She performed this song a bit fater and with a more of an acoustic sound that worked very well.

1988

 
FlatCat wrote:
How long has this song been around? And yet it seems more poignant now with the economic meltdown and all.
 


This song is just too sad for me to listen to. Lovely song. Love Tracy. I just can't listen. {#Cry}


Before the singing started I was thinking this was some odd, Unplugged version of Jack & Diane. Weird — I never thought that before.


Weird classic profound drivel!

Be someone !!!!!



Deep song... great stuff...  and good for the ears...


 thewiseking wrote:
this song ISNT classic
unless you define classic as amateurish uninspired singing with overwrought awful poetry

this is about as CLASSIC as hootie and the blowfish
 
Sorry, (not, actually) your self-described majesty, I beg to differ!
Either you ain't bin' there, or your in denial;.............{#Cool}

 jnhashmi wrote:
If this song isn't a classic, I don't know what is. Just amazing.
 
Yes it is! Such a powerful song, deserves a 10.

I love Tracy Chapman and eagerly buy her albums as they come out. While I think "Fast Car" is overrated in comparison to a lot of her other works, it is still an amazing song, in my opinion.
How long has this song been around? And yet it seems more poignant now with the economic meltdown and all.
 flyboy wrote:
Mute.
 

Wasilla ?!?!?!?!
Let me guess, you're a Maverick.

 Ericac wrote:


Don't get me wrong, I do like this song a lot. But it also always reminds me of that parody skit which was so funny. However, I believe it was on the TV program called "In Living Color". Amazing what memories that music stirs up.
 

It was In Living Color and the actress was Debra Wilson.  Hilarious skit.
still overplayed...even today.
DELTA__9__FOOLS wrote:


This is bewildering. Why would they call you a rapist?



I read through that story about 3 times thinking the same thing. I think you're missing something from that story there, or the concert-goers were just drunken concert-goers.


Yeah, Pretty sure that the parody was on "ILC." I grew up near Cambridge, MA where Tracy got her start (busking in Harvard Square, I believe). The local stations played this song so much I would yell the lyrics back at the radio out of frustration and sarcasm. Bill, I think at this point even Tracy herself would appreciate it if you'd give this song a nice, long rest. She actually has written and performed other songs!

As for the fellow RPer who was labeled a "rapist" while walking with his baby in a stroller and his ex:  I'm just guessing, but maybe the people yelling were just goofing on you. That, or they were just in an angry, man-hating mood (which gets really tired really fast).



Ericac wrote:
Don't get me wrong, I do like this song a lot. But it also always reminds me of that parody skit which was so funny. However, I believe it was on the TV program called "In Living Color". Amazing what memories that music stirs up.




If this song isn't a classic, I don't know what is. Just amazing.
CafeRacer wrote:
Flashback 20 years ago. My ex and I were walking through town after playing chess and drinking coffee at a local cafe. I was pushing our 8 month old son in a stroller. This same weekend was a national Women's Music Festival. The Tracy Chapman concert had let out about 30 minutes ago and as we were walking I heard three concert-goers yelling "RAPIST!" at me from across the street. Tracy Chapman will forever be linked to hatred and intolerance in my eyes. It's a shame, because I might otherwise enjoy the music.



This is bewildering.  Why would they call you a rapist?

Flashback 20 years ago. My ex and I were walking through town after playing chess and drinking coffee at a local cafe. I was pushing our 8 month old son in a stroller. This same weekend was a national Women's Music Festival. The Tracy Chapman concert had let out about 30 minutes ago and as we were walking I heard three concert-goers yelling "RAPIST!" at me from across the street. Tracy Chapman will forever be linked to hatred and intolerance in my eyes. It's a shame, because I might otherwise enjoy the music.
Pyro wrote:
Did anyone see the Mad TV parody on Tracy? She would look out the window and write a song about whatever she saw...pretty funny! "Man out in the yard, beatin oh his woman, carries a big stick..." This song IS a classic!
Don't get me wrong, I do like this song a lot. But it also always reminds me of that parody skit which was so funny. However, I believe it was on the TV program called "In Living Color". Amazing what memories that music stirs up.
thewiseking wrote:
this is about as CLASSIC as hootie and the blowfish
:clap: What a perfect description for this dreck.
i think this is her best song - and a just plain great song, period....one of those that work their way into your head and you hum it all day.
highwindows wrote:
What ever happened to Tracy Chapman?
Maybe she got into that fast car... Oh - 8, by the way!