Luke Combs‘ cover of Tracy Chapman‘s hit, “Fast Car,” has been dominating the country charts — but amid its success … some have wondered if racism is afoot in the genre.
Here’s the deal … think pieces have been published of late that delve into this topic — including one from WaPo, which really kick-started this conversation — and they’re all posing the same question … why didn’t TC resonate with the same audience Luke has???
The answer that a lot of these articles seem to land on — after interviewing subjects, etc. — is that, even today, it’s hard for Black artists to break through in country. And they’re using the example of Luke thrusting new life into “Fast Car” as their exhibit A for that argument.
Of course, in reaching this conclusion … the word “racism” is getting thrown around a lot.
In fact, the author of the WaPo article put it quite succinctly in promoting her work — writing, “As Luke Combs’s hit cover of Tracy Chapman’s ‘Fast Car’ dominates the country charts, it’s bringing up some complicated emotions in fans & singers who know that Chapman, as a queer Black woman, would have an almost zero chance at that achievement herself.”
Unfortunately for her, it doesn’t sound like the Internet’s accepting her theory at face value … and pushing back on the implication that “Fast Car” was some obscure song that’s only now getting mainstream recognition — while also trolling WaPo as reaching for outrage.
You can see how folks are reacting for yourself, but as many of them are pointing out … “Fast Car” was a monster hit when it was released in ’88, and helped Tracy break out into music, not to mention accolades that followed after, including Grammys and other awards.
Even commercially, the song killed … soaring on a number of charts around the world, and peaking at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 list at the time. Bottom line … it seems like people are scoffing at the notion that Tracy’s missing out/getting snubbed amid Luke’s use of it.
And as others are also clarifying … “Fast Car” was not originally released as country song — and that, perhaps, the reason it’s booming in the country scene right now is because a huge country star did their own rendition with it. That’s also known as … a crossover cover.
We’re also just now getting to a huge part of this … namely, the fact that Tracy has gone on record to applaud Luke for his cover — and more importantly, the enormous amount of royalties this has generated for her … seeing how she’s the original songwriter here.
Tracy said, “I never expected to find myself on the country charts, but I’m honored to be there. I’m happy for Luke and his success and grateful that new fans have found and embraced ‘Fast Car.'” In other words … she seems to be more than fine with this.
Carry on, folks … nothing to see here.