Tracy Chapman Reacts To Topping Country Charts-With Luke Combs' Help

Tracy Chapman: "I never expected to find myself on the country charts, but I’m honored to be there."

Luke Combs’ cover of Tracy Chapman’s 1988 hit “Fast Car” has made headlines for weeks. And while it’s common – and even expected – for Combs to be a hot topic of conversation in country music – it’s a first for Tracy Chapman.

When Combs topped Billboard’s Country Airplay chart (dated July 8), Chapman became the first black woman to reach No. 1 on the chart as a sole writer.

“I never expected to find myself on the country charts, but I’m honored to be there,” Chapman told Billboard. “I’m happy for Luke and his success and grateful that new fans have found and embraced ‘Fast Car.’”

The song emotionally recounts the story of a woman who is trying to work herself out of poverty and homelessness. “Fast Car” is at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 this week, four spots higher than Chapman’s original version.

Staying true to Chapman’s version was important to Combs, whose first memories include hearing her “Fast Car” in the truck with his dad. The country singer told Kelleigh Bannen on Today’s Country Radio that “Fast Car” was his first favorite song.

“We rode around in that thing, and he had a tape cassette player in there,” Combs said. “And I have the original cassette — my dad brought it to me a couple years ago.”

Combs revered the song so much that he didn’t change Chapman’s original lyrics to be gender appropriate for a male singer.

“You want to just be mega respectful of the original song,” Combs said. “That’s why in that song, it’s, ‘work in the market as a checkout girl.’ I didn’t change that in my version. I really wanted to just do the original version of the song.”

He said he didn’t want to change the song and make it his own because he wanted to “shine a light on the original version.”

“I think there’s so many people that maybe know that song, or it would be familiar to them, but they really don’t know anything about it,” he told Bannen. “They’ve never really listened to it. When I recorded this, literally the engineer in there asked me who I wrote that song with.”

“Fast Car” is from Combs’ recent album “Gettin’ Old,” which he released on March 24.

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