Tracy Chapman’s ‘Fast Car’ Triumph: A Timeless Journey through Country Music History


Tracy Chapman's 'Fast Car' Triumph: A Timeless Journey through Country Music History
Credit: Google

In a spectacular achievement at the recent Country Music Awards (CMA), Tracy Chapman’s iconic 1988 composition, “Fast Car,” seized not only the prestigious Song of the Year but also captured the Single of the Year accolade. This unforeseen resurgence, emerging 35 years after its initial release, marks an historic milestone as Chapman becomes the inaugural Black songwriter to obtain this distinction in the CMA’s impressive 57-year history. Though Chapman wasn’t present at the event, her influence was unmistakably palpable as Luke Combs, the artist responsible for the celebrated cover of “Fast Car,” humbly acknowledged her contribution in crafting “one of the best songs of all time.”

The Resurgence

Making waves in 1988 as a folk ballad, “Fast Car” basked in its glory when it climbed to No. 6 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. The song’s recent revival can be credited to country music prodigy Luke Combs, whose rendition not only soared atop the Hot Country Songs chart but also achieved 2nd place on the Hot 100 chart during this summer.

Combs’ Impact

Renowned for his irresistible country tunes, Luke Combs not only bagged Single of the Year for his interpretation of “Fast Car,” but also extended heartfelt gratitude to Tracy Chapman during his speech of appreciation. The triumph of Combs’ adaptation served as sturdy momentum, acquainting a novel generation with Chapman’s ageless ballad. By blending Combs’ North Carolina drawl and country-infused elements, the fresh rendition retained its authentic acoustic texture.

Tracy Chapman’s Gratitude

Tracy Chapman's Gratitude
Credit: Google

Tracy Chapman couldn’t join the award proceedings; nevertheless, her genuine appreciation was perfectly communicated via a statement recited by Sarah Evans, adding an extra layer of warmth to the event. In this message, Chapman conveyed her profound honor at having her song acknowledged anew after three and a half decades, while extending her gratitude to everyone involved – including the Country Music Awards, Luke Combs, and the devoted fans who treasured the undying charm of “Fast Car.”

The Grammys Await

As excitement heightens for the upcoming Grammy Awards, industry enthusiasts are keeping a watchful eye on whether Tracy Chapman will secure nominations for “Fast Car,” specifically due to the impact of Combs’ rendition. The original performance had brought Chapman three Grammy nominations in 1989, comprised of Song of the Year. With this current reawakening, she might very well be thrust back into Grammy prominence.

Diving Deeper into “Fast Car”

In 1988, Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” made its captivating debut as the lead single on her eponymous album. This evocative folk-rock masterpiece highlights the struggle to break free from poverty and gained international acclaim following her mesmerizing performance at Nelson Mandela’s 70th Birthday Concert in Wembley Stadium. Over the years, this timeless tune has become a musical touchstone, inspiring covers by renowned artists such as Black Pumas and Justin Bieber.

The unwavering popularity of “Fast Car” was further cemented when it resurfaced on the UK charts in 2015, propelled by fresh tropical house remixes from Jonas Blue and Tobtok. Speaking to Rolling Stone, Chapman expressed astonishment and gratitude for the song’s presence on US country radio via Luke Combs’ rendition. She also generously praised Combs’ accomplishments and warmly acknowledged the appreciation of newfound fans.

Luke Combs’ Journey

Luke Comb
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As a humble yet gifted artist skilled in penning unforgettable country ballads, Luke Combs shot to stardom with his heartfelt rendition of “Fast Car.” During his emotionally charged speech at the CMAs, he confessed that this track was his all-time favorite since he first discovered it at just four years old. This genuine tribute to Chapman’s work deeply resonated with listeners and fellow musicians alike.

Historical Significance

Tracy Chapman’s CMA triumph not only showcases her enduring classic but also stands as a pivotal milestone for inclusivity in country music. By becoming the first Black songwriter to secure the Song of the Year award, she helps reshape an evolving genre long entangled in questions surrounding diversity. Her victory signals progress towards embracing a broader spectrum of voices and narratives within this beloved style of music.

The Grandeur of “Fast Car” at the CMAs

The Grandeur of "Fast Car" at the CMAs
Credit: Google

The prestigious Country Music Association Awards, hosted by Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning in Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, provided just the right platform for celebrating the magnificence of “Fast Car.” The event paid homage to both the original composition and Luke Combs’ cover, affirming an indelible position for the song in the country music pantheon.


The longevity and allure of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” demonstrates music’s remarkable ability to cross boundaries, resonate with diverse audiences, and enchant successive generations. The CMA Awards not only acknowledged the extraordinary influence of this song but also marked a breakthrough moment for cultural inclusiveness in country music. As anticipation builds for the upcoming Grammy nominations, fans worldwide eagerly await to see if Tracy Chapman’s name will once again grace the annals of music history. “Fast Car” continues to serve as a bridge between past and present, offering a timeless reminder of the sheer splendor found within the realm of exceptional music.

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