Back in 1988, TRACY CHAPMAN's "Fast Car" was something of a phenomenon. Much like SUZANNE VEGA's "Luka," the song's quiet, understated urgency stood in stark contrast to that testosterone-besotted era's loud, fast, and glossy-to-a-fault codpiece rock. If a woman was to be seen or heard at all at the time, she pretty much needed to be a perky pop-princess (TIFFANY, DEBBIE GIBSON), an axe-wielding, vamping vixen (LITA FORD), or a glorified hood-ornament (TAWNY KITAEN writhing about on WHITESNAKE's Jag). That it also helped to be white kind of went without saying.
Sure, a not-yet-coked-to-the-gills WHITNEY HOUSTON was then quite the Miss Thang, but Tracy Chapman didn't much look like Whitney Houston, and she sure as hell didn't sound like her. No Casio dance-pop; no overblown love ballads. Yet, somehow, Ms. Chapman's eponymous debut managed to top the charts, garner three Grammys, and sell 6+ million units in the U.S. alone. Not bad, for openers. But what was she going to do for an encore?
As it happens, that encore has played out as a quiet, understated, 20-year-career in the music business. Chapman has released six subsequent albums -- two of which have gone platinum, two of which have gone gold. She picked up another Grammy for her 1995 out-of-the-blue comeback single, "Give Me One Reason," and has duetted with everyone from B.B. KING and ERIC CLAPTON to LUCIANO PAVAROTTI and ZIGGY MARLEY.
So... for not burning out, and for not fading away, Tracy Chapman has earned herself a generous, two-part helping of love & respect here today. "Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start...."
From her self-titled LP, 1988 >>>
[MP3] "Fast Car"
[MP3] "Talkin' 'Bout a Revolution"
From the LP CROSSROADS, 1989 >>>
From the LP MATTERS OF THE HEART, 1992 >>>
[MP3] "The Love That You Had"
BONUS TRACK >>>
[MP3] "House of the Rising Sun"