Fast Car

Learn How To Play Fast Car

Chords and Guitar Lessons

Watch This Video

Complete song – Acoustic guitar and vocals


Tracy Chapman‘s Fast Car was one of three massive hits from her self-titled debut album.

The other two, Baby Can I Hold You and Talkin’ About A Revolution firmly cemented Tracy as the world’s favorite busker.

My one guitar version of Fast Car varies slightly from how Tracy plays the riff. Instead of moving up the neck, I found a way to play it using open position chords.

In the course, we learn what I play, what Tracy does on the original, as well as develop these parts all over the neck.

Chord progression

The chords in Fast Car are simple, using only chord IV – I – VI – V on a loop over the seemingly never-ending verse.

| Cmaj7 G | Em7 D |

During the chorus, we change from playing a finger style picking pattern to a strumming technique instead. The chords first remain the same, although now take up a bar each.

| C | G | Em | D |

| C Em | D | x2

| C D |

Apply a capo to fret 2 and you’re actually in the key of A. However, you want to think of Fast Car as if you’re in the key of G.

Guitar Lessons

Fast Car – Step 1 (Free Preview)

In this first step, we learn how to play the two guitar parts that make up the original verse of Fast Car.

Complete this step and you’ll realize that just working out the original part is not enough if you want to learn how to actually write something like this.

Go to Fast Car step 1.

Fast Car – Step 2

In this step, we develop the two guitar verse parts into one guitar parts.

You get ten examples, learn these before you start developing your own variations.

Go to Fast Car step 2.

Fast Car – Step 3

Let’s look at three different strumming patterns you could use to play the chorus of Fast Car.

All are played with a pick as this sounds better. Of course, I show you how you could play it finger style as well.

Go to Fast Car step 3.

Fast Car – Step 4

It’s time to play the complete song. Use the ten verse ideas as you play along with me and the singer. Aim to vary your verse part as much as possible.

For the chorus, there’s a new idea available in TAB that will work along with my frenetic finger style strumming.

Go to Fast Car step 4.

Fast Car – Step 5

It’s time to take that Fast Car and keep on driving up and down the fret board.

Using a real song to learn about the fret board is always a better idea than playing a random exercise.

Go to Fast Car step 5.

Fast Car – Step 6

In this step, we find another 2nd guitar part that compliments the finger style version.

This time, it is played using only string 1-3. Can you do this without reading the TAB?

Go to Fast Car step 6.

Fast Car – Step 7

In today’s step, we largely ignore the song’s melody. Instead, we improvise, using the chord shapes as a guide.

Aim to connect the fret board by playing all over it.

Go to Fast Car step 7.

Fast Car – Step 8

In this final step, take everything you’ve learned and come up with a 2nd guitar part that makes me and the singer sound better.

Your part needs to sound as if it belongs to the performance. Simply put the video on repeat and come up with stuff. If it works, repeat it.

Go to Fast Car step 8.

Related Pages


Fast CarYou got a fast car, I want a ticket to anywhere
Maybe we 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 but me myself I got nothing to prove

Go to Fast Car lyrics.

Tracy Chapman

tracy-chapman-thumbTracy Chapman is an American singer-songwriter, best known for her singles Fast Car, Talking About A Revolution, and Baby Can I Hold You from her self-entitled titled debut album.

Amazingly, these were the three first songs on the debut.

Go to Tracy Chapman biography.


Learning how to play guitar is best done through playing and learning from songs.

The intermediate songs require you to learn barre chords and pentatonic scales. This will be revolutionary for your understanding of the guitar fret board.

Go to Intermediate guitar course.

Intermediate Acoustic Songs

You can learn how to play these intermediate songs on the acoustic guitar.

A Change Is Gonna Come, American Pie, Angie, Babylon, Blowin’ In The Wind, Dreadlock Holiday, Fast Car, Hey There Delilah, I Can’t Stand The Rain, I’m Yours, Kiss Me, Mad World, Red, Starman, Sunny Afternoon, and Whistle For The Choir.

Go to Intermediate acoustic songs.


All those open position chords you learned in the beginner course now become barre chords and pentatonic scales.

We’ll use this to map out the entire fret board. Everything becomes easier to visualize once this foundation is laid.

Go to Intermediate guitar exercises.

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Including detailed, but bite-sized explanations on how the music theory of each song is applied to the neck.

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