As you likely already know, “Fast Car” has been given a second life thanks to Luke Combs releasing a cover of the hit song on his most recent album Gettin’ Old. Comb’s cover was actually nominated in the Best Country Solo Performance category, but lost to Chris Stapleton’s “White Horse.”
Combs rendition of the song might not have won, but Chapman’s original recording raked it in back at the 1989 Grammy Awards. Tracy released “Fast Car” in 1988, and the following year, she took home the Grammy Award for Best New Artist, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for “Fast Car,” and Best Contemporary Folk Album for Tracy Chapman.
And while we’re talking about the late 80’s , I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Chapman’s iconic 1988 performance at Wembley Stadium in London, England. The story of her performance of “Fast Car” is a rather interesting one, and likely helped act as a stepping stone to her stardom.
As the story goes, Chapman was at Wembley Stadium along with many other artists playing a concert as a tribute to Nelson Mandela’s 70th birthday. With over 80,000 people in attendance, Stevie Wonder was set to play a set, but he and his team discovered that recorded music necessary for his performance was missing shortly before he went out on stage. With no way to recover the files needed (a problem like this would easily be solvable with today’s modern technology), a disappointed and tearful Wonder walked off the stage. The crowd became restless, and the person that was sent out to save the day was Tracy Chapman.
The singer/songwriter had already played earlier on in the concert, but just needing her powerful voice and her guitar to perform, Chapman was pushed back out to fill the gap in the concert lineup, and she managed to quiet down and win over an uneasy crowd.
Take a listen:
Just an unreal moment in music history.
I have to point out that Chapman voice live sounds almost identical to her studio recordings, which can’t be said for a lot of modern day artists. And she sounds just as good in 2024 as she did back in 1988. The full version of Chapman and Combs’ duet from last night can be viewed below (to bolster my point):