good morning everyone -
By now, everyone must have heard of Fast Car by Tracy Chapman. It’s unavoidable.
For years it was one of those songs I actively avoided. It fell into the dubious “overplayed songs” category (I can’t remember the last time I listened to Bohemian Rhapsody, either).
I did my best to stay out of the whole situation since Luke Combs’ cover brought it back to the top of the pops.
But then the Grammys happened. And while the awards themselves bear little weight in an artist’s legacy, I found Chapman’s performance with Combs to be quite moving. I’d go so far as to say that it taught us a serious lesson in qualitative versus quantitative recognition.
And I’m very glad she got that recognition. Like Kate Bush did not long ago.
That’s all kinda besides the point.
Since watching that performance, I searched through my memory to find the first time I had listened to Fast Car. It was 2009. I was a freshman in high school, English class with Mr Herbert.
This song featured in one of our classes. He wanted to do something different than reading Shakespeare (although we’d get to that later in the semester).
He played this song on his iPod, which I think was connected to some speaker. Then he played it again, this time with the lyrics sheet placed on each student’s desk.
It was the first time we has studied lyrics. Our homework that week was to pick a song and then dive into the lyrics. I chose Hungry Like the Wolf, by Duran Duran.
Fast Car is a lot deeper than Hungry Like the Wolf. We talked about freedom, escapism, entrepreneurialism and self discovery - all things angsty teenagers care about.
Listening to it again, I most appreciate how open-ended the song is.
“You gotta make a decision
Leave tonight or live and die this way”
It leaves us on this precipice of a decision. It’s so haunting. You take a gasp and the song ends before you can exhale.
I didn’t recognise it at the time, but this song and that English class ended up being one of the most important roles in my journey discovering music.
Fitzie’s track of the day: Fast Car, by Tracy Chapman
And now for your links:
Alasdair Gold interviews the man who was instrumental in Lucas Bervall’s rise
A short clip on Emma Hayes speaking about Star Wars and its valuable messages