Radio VII, side A, track 3: “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman

Oh, Tracy Chapman, I thought that part of the lyrics were “Livin’ in a fast car” instead of “You got a fast car”, and I thought it was a sad song about a girl and her alcoholic dad living out of their car.  Now that I know the actual lyrics, the sentiment hasn’t really changed that much; it’s still a song about trying to survive on the bottom rungs of society and being one or two steps away from actually living in that fast car.  And now that I’ve paid more attention to the lyrics, the song’s that much sadder, as our heroine thinks she’s escaped the bleak life she lived with her father into another bleak life with another man who takes advantage of her.  I can’t say I necessarily “enjoyed” this song, Tracy Chapman, because it breaks my heart every time I listen to it.  You sound like such a beautiful, genuine woman, and picturing you stoically trying to make your life better while all the deadbeats in your life slowly drag you down always makes me sad.  But at least you kicked the guy out in the end, and at least you made such a wonderful song.

“Fast Car”

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
Startin’ from zero got nothing to lose
Maybe we’ll make something
Me, myself, I got nothin’ to prove

You got a fast car
I got a plan to get us outta here
Been workin’ down the convenience store
Managed to save just a little bit’a money
Won’t have to drive too far
Just ‘cross the border and into the city
You and I can both get jobs
And finally see what it means to be living

See my old man’s got a problem
Live with the bottle, that’s the way it is
He says his body’s too old for working
I say his body’s too young to look like his
My mama went off and left him
She wanted more from life than he could give
I said somebody’s got to take care of him
I quit school and that’s what I did

You got a fast car
Is it fast enough so we can fly away
We gotta make a decision
Leave tonight or live and die this way

So remember when we were drivin’, drivin’ in your car
Speed so fast I felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped ’round my shoulder
And I had a feeling that I belonged
I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone

You got a fast car
We go cruisin’, entertain ourselves
Still ain’t got a job
Now I work in a market as a checkout girl
I know things’ll get better
You’ll find work and I’ll get promoted
And we’ll move out of the shelter
Buy a bigger house and live in the suburbs

So remember when we were drivin’, drivin’ in your car
Speed so fast I felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped ’round my shoulder
And I had a feeling that I belonged
I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone

You got a fast car
I got a job that pays all our bills
You stay out drinkin’ late at the bar
See more of your friends than you do of your kids
I’d always hoped for better
Thought maybe together you and me would find it
I got no plans, I ain’t going nowhere
So take your fast car and keep on driving

You got a fast car
Is it fast enough so you can fly away
You gotta make a decision
Leave tonight or live and die this way

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17 thoughts on “Radio VII, side A, track 3: “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman

  1. afreestyler says:

    Absolutely adore this song, and album. Interesting reading your story.

    Like

    • Starstorm says:

      Thanks, afreestyler! It really is such a great song with a great (if depressing) story.

      Like

      • afreestyler says:

        You’re welcome! Must admit, I have her self titled album, so it has a different ‘feel’ to it, not all encompassing ‘sad’..
        1: Talkin’ Bout a Revolution
        2: Fast Car
        3: Across The Lines
        4: Behind The Wall
        5: Baby Can I Hold You
        side two
        1: Mountains O’ Things
        2: She’s Got Her Ticket
        3: Why?
        4: For My Lover
        5: If Not Now
        6: For You

        Anyhow, you may know them all; I just love the album and feel it has a wistful and subtlety of hope.. 😉

        Like

        • Starstorm says:

          Nice! Thanks for this! Honestly, I’ve only heard two of her songs, “Fast Car” and “Baby Can I Hold You”, both solely because they came on the radio. Considering how isolated I was as a kid, my radio station was able to have me pretty well-rounded music-wise, but I could never really afford to purchase an album. Well, I could have either purchased on album or a couple packs of tapes to record more songs off the radio, and the tapes generally won out. I think I’m adding this album to my Christmas list, though, based on your review.

          Like

  2. stellamarr says:

    LOVE this post and love Fast Car too.

    Like

  3. jaymers says:

    Love Tracy Chapman. And I have to agree with you that livin’ in a fast car sounds rough. Though perhaps a step up from the shelter? (Oh, and get the album, so good.)

    Like

  4. John S says:

    It’s a great song and one I associate with getting married back in 1990. It had a deep vibe which worked for me at that time. So I love it still!

    Like

  5. […] Tracy Chapman, I don’t know if I could say much more about this song than I did the first time I posted about it just a little over a year ago.  It still breaks my heart and I still love it.  Nothing’s […]

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