Tracy Chapman biography



Tracy took the world by storm with three songs on her debut album!

Tracy Chapman is an American singer-songwriter, best known for her singles Fast Car, Talkin’ ’Bout A Revolution and Baby Can I Hold You from her self-entitled titled debut album Tracy Chapman.

Coming from the coffee shop scene in Massachusetts, Tracy not only sold multi-platinum and won three Grammy awards for her debut. She changed music history as she paved the way for other female acts with more political lyrics. Something that had gotten lost in the spandex and make-up of the 80s.

Following Tracy Chapman, many popular acts were now more honest. More female acoustic acts, like Jewel, were being signed in huge bidding wars by big labels as everyone was looking for the next Tracy Chapman.

A few years later, when male rock bands like grunge trio Nirvana and political metal hip-hoppers Rage Against The Machine became popular, the tide had shifted.

Hair metal was dead, and hundreds of rock bands were dropped overnight. There are numerous stories of band members going from sipping champagne on a private Jet to stacking shelves in their local supermarket.


Tracy Chapman started a revolution

The original recording of Talking About A Revolution, or Talkin’ ’bout A Revolution as the album sleeve says, opened up the self-entitled masterpiece. This song epitomized the female songwriter, singing of political change from a street corner.

Before you even had a chance to turn the album over, fans were sold. Tracy Chapman was everyone’s new favorite singer-songwriter.

Women took to this record as something that spoke to them, it felt honest, genuine, and real. Again, very much in contrast to the direction the music industry, in general, had been going.

Following the success of the world-famous debut, Tracy Chapman has shared studios and stages with many famous artists.

On Tracy’s list of collaborations, you find B.B King, Eric Clapton, Pavarotti, Buddy Guy, Ziggy Marley, and Dave Matthews.

In 1997, Irish boy band Boyzone had a huge hit with Baby Can I Hold You which brought Tracy back into the charts with the same song, a decade later.

Boyzone attracted another generation of teenage girls to Tracy Chapman who saw a new revival.

Did Tracy Chapman’s debut album have the three strongest songs of an A-side? well, it’s definitely a contender!


A fast car drove the acoustic guitar back into the charts

Fast Car is a single from the hugely successful self-entitled debut album Tracy Chapman ’(88).

Following a performance at Nelson Mandela’s televised 70th Birthday Party, Fast Car reached #5 in the U.S and #6 in the UK charts.

As well as worldwide success in sales, the album was nominated for three Grammy awards, taking home Best Female Pop Performance for Fast Car.

The lyrics of Fast Car might be some of the finest of the 80s, possibly even comparable to Bob Dylan‘s work.

Tracy tells the story of the impossible task of getting somewhere in a modern poor America that seemed to have no other possibilities other than getting a job at the grocery store and watching your partner fall into drug or alcohol abuse.

The final twist of the song simply moves from “we gotta make a decision” to “you gotta make a decision, leave tonight or live and die this way”.

As this might seem like the only solution, the song delivered a bitter feeling that no matter what, there was no way out.

This type of lyrical content, paired with the feeling of hope in Talking About A Revolution and the more romantic Baby Can I Hold You provided, gave the album depth.

As all three songs stood strong on their own, together they told the bitter tale of a modern America, clearly stating that if you had no money, you were a no one.

After a decade of outrageous hairspray stadium spandex rock, where sex drugs and rock n roll ruled, Tracy Chapman delivered what the world craved, honesty, not fakery.

Only a few years later, when the big rock acts had unloaded their last Marshall stack, applied their final eyeliner and Nirvana had taken over, it was clear that someone must have started all this. I reckon it was Tracy.


Fast Car – Chords

Cmaj7 G5 | Em Dadd4 |
You got a fast car, I want a ticket to anywhere.
Cmaj7 G5 | Em Dadd4 |
Maybe we make a deal, maybe together we can get somewhere.

Go to Fast Car chords.


Fast Car – Lyrics + Live performance

You 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.


Talking About A Revolution – Chords

G Cadd9 | Em D Dus4 D |
Don’t you know, they’re talkin’ about a revolution,
G Cadd9 | Em D Dus4 D |
it sounds, like a whisper.

Go to Talking About A Revolution chords.


Talking About A Revolution – Lyrics + Live performance

Don’t you know, they’re talkin’ bout a revolution,
it sounds, like a whisper.
Don’t you know, they’re talkin’ about a revolution,
it sounds, like a whisper.

Go to Talking About A Revolution lyrics.