Country singer's cover of Tracy Chapman's 'Fast Car' charts higher than the original

Originally published at: Country singer's cover of Tracy Chapman's 'Fast Car' charts higher than the original | Boing Boing


Nice! However … you could retire on a #6 single in 1988. #4 in 2023 might buy you a new truck!


Heard this just the other day for the first time. He doesn’t do much to really make it his “own,” but in this case I’ll forgive that. It’s one of those tunes that really loses its impact if you change it too much. No version will ever be better than hearing her sing it live, though, which I had the pleasure of doing once.


Every Christmas the stores start playing modern covers of Christmas songs that sound almost identical to the original but just with a new singer. I always wonder like who needs a new version of “last Christmas” or “all I want for Christmas is you” when the originals are perfect and classic. Is it actually them trying to appeal to younger audiences or is there some back room payola deals with record companies to promote the new artists or something?


I too just heard this song last weekend, - twice - running through unfamiliar stations on the way home from my parents (after spending a week in Texas).

I think he did a good job, and I too was a little surprised he didn’t change any words (which honestly, the song wouldn’t make as much sense if you did).

However, it still really pales compared to Tracy Chapman’s original, which is a such a fantastic song.


Sounds more like a remix than a cover. His voice is even similar. Like back when they used to release “sounds like” albums to avoid paying royalties.


At least with the songs playing in stores, I kinda get that part of the reason is royalties, a lot of commercial playlists use lesser known artists so that the artist gets a flat payment and the only royalties owed are to the composers (mostly via ASCAP).

This feels instead like a labour of love. The artist simply likes the song, and enough other people also like his recording enough to add it to their streaming playlists, if I understand the charts nowadays. Somehow comparing singles sold to the age of streaming services seems quaint.


She was already a rising star, but she got the big break in 1988 when she was asked to fill in for Stevie Wonder (who was having technical problems) at the Wembley Stadium concert for Nelson Mandela.


As songwriter and lyricist, she’s getting her cut of royalties off of this - I’m assuming she doesn’t mind it.


Totally! I guess I just prefer covers to at least try to do something unique or I’d rather just listen to the original. This version does sound good, I won’t deny. And heck, maybe it will get more people listening to the original. I feel like that happens with me back in the 90s when I was a teen. I discover David Bowie and the Vaselines because of Nirvana covers!


i’ve been a fan of hers since her first album, and i also have been boosting his cover since i heard it about a month ago – i think it’s perfect, and i’m glad he honors her original down to the last note and lyric. he seems like a good guy who just loves her, too. congrats on this success to both of them.


I’d say both. Payola and efforts to court younger demographics.

Rare example of a cover that adds a new perspective without taking away from the original. I like the cover and I like the original, and the cover will bring younger people into appreciating her, too.

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If this helps younger music fans discover Tracy Chapman, and I suspect it will, I am all for it. Normally, I want a cover to differ more from the original, but the original here is so perfect that I think changing much at all just wouldn’t work.

I will say, I do like it when songs are covered by an artist in a different genre and it works. It shows just how good the song really is. I never cared much for disco, so I didn’t think much of I Will Survive until Cake covered it. I liked their version so much it made me go back and listen to Gloria Gaynor’s version with a more open mind, and I loved it too.


With tunes like this, I like it when the cover artist approaches it with an advantage the original performer didn’t have: they know it’s a success, they don’t have to push it, they can strip away the bits that aren’t essential and serve up the favourite parts. He did good here.

I’m not jealous (sulks away, kicks furniture).

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To be fair: It’s charting higher now than in the 80s because people were shorter back then.



I’d say the only thing making this version Country is the addition of a pedal steel guitar at the beginning. It might be playing throughout this version but I’m listening through a PC speaker.

I like them both. But I can remember exactly where I was the first time I heard the original. I was on the Number 1 MBTA bus going down Massachusetts Avenue listening to the radio through an AM/FM/Cassette Walkman coming home from work.

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Most country today is just pop rock with southern accents. Started in the 90s and then 9/11 just put a big ol’ nail in the coffin.

Honestly, I don’t want to like this, but I have to admit it’s pretty good. It’s also really nice to see a country song that goes back to that whole working class struggle thing that used to define the genre.


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