Tracy Chapman hit ‘Fast Car’ No.1 on iTunes post Grammy performance

Tracy Chapman, Fast Car, Grammys, Luke Combs

Tracy Chapman released “Fast Car” on her self-titled 1998 album. The hit single, which has been a lesbian anthem for decades, has found new popularity thanks to the Luke Combs cover.

Tracy Chapman’s poignant performance of “Fast Car” at the 66th Annual Grammy Awards gave the single, which has been a lesbian anthem for decades, enough speed to race up the charts.

The 1988 hit is No. 1 on iTunes’ top songs.

‘Fast Car’

Written by Chapman and first released in 1988, “Fast Car” is one of music’s most influential and beloved songs. The iconic song was the lead single from Chapman’s self-titled studio debut album. The song became a hit in the U.S. and the U.K., hitting No. 6 stateside and reaching No. 5 on the U.K. Singles Chart in 1988.

“Fast Car” was nominated for record of the year, song of the year and best female pop vocal performance with Chapman taking home the Grammy for the latter honor.

 iTunes list

The Grammys had a significant impact on the iTunes list. Chapman’s “Fast Car” is followed in second place by record of the year winner Miley Cyrus’ “Flowers” and in third place by Billy Joel’s “Turn the Lights Back On.” Joel performed his first new song in 17 years during the awards show.

Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now,” which she performed during the show, also appears. Additionally, the Luke Combs version of “Fast Car,” song of the year winner Billie Elish’s “What Was I Made For?” and the multiple Grammy nominee “Vampire” by Olivia Rodrigo also appear in the Top 10.

The iTunes top songs list is different from Apple Music’s top charts. The top charts measures the most popular songs streamed on Apple Music, while the iTunes top songs list measures the most popular purchased and downloaded tracks.

The popularity of “Fast Car” hasn’t had as much of an impact on streaming. Only the Luke Combs version of the song appears on Apple Music’s top 100 songs in the 35th slot. The song doesn’t appear in Spotify’s top 50 songs.

Lesbian anthem

Though “Fast Car” is a lesbian anthem, Chapman, 59, has never spoken publicly about her sexual orientation. The singer-songwriter has maintained a separation between her public and private life.

Other people,  however, have commented about her identity.

Author Alice Walker (“The Color Purple”) has said that she and Chapman had a romantic relationship in the 1990s.

In an interview with Gayle King on “CBS Mornings” in 2006, Walker said Chapman was one of her “great loves.”

Walker told King that Chapman’s voice was part of the attraction to her.

“You know, there are some voices in our culture that can carry the whole culture and really make an emotional sense of it and liberate you into a deep love of that.”

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Luke Combs

Multi-Grammy winner Chapman and country superstar Luke Combs collaborated for a moving duet of “Fast Car” during Sunday’s Grammy Awards. The performance was a unique moment as it took place 35 years to the month since Chapman first performed “Fast Car” at the Grammys and follows a year of unprecedented success for Combs with the song.

It’s been introduced to a new audience, topped charts across genres, garnered millions of streams, won two awards at the 2023 CMA Awards (song of the year for Chapman and single of the year for Combs) and was nominated for best country solo performance at this year’s Grammys.

A historic moment, the performance found Chapman reuniting with musicians from the song’s original recording — Denny Fongheiser (drums) and Larry Klein (bass) — as well as her longtime band members Larry Campbell (fiddle) and Joe Gore (guitar). The group was also joined by Combs’ band member Kurt Ozan (pedal steel).

Combs first heard “Fast Car” as a child while listening with his father. It is one of his favorite songs, and has been a constant and meaningful presence in Combs’ life. 

Combs has performed “Fast Car” during his live shows over the past decade before releasing his own version last spring, 35 years after the song first debuted.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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