Tracy Chapman's True Feelings About Luke Combs Covering Her Hit Fast Car

It's not uncommon for a singer to successfully cover another singer's song. For example, it happened when Sinéad O'Connor covered Prince's "Nothing Compares 2 U," and it happened when country singer Luke Combs covered Tracy Chapman's 1988 hit "Fast Car." Combs released his version of "Fast Car" in 2023, and it was a hit, peaking at the second overall spot on the Hot 100. (Chapman's original version peaked at the sixth spot on that same chart.) 

Combs' cover brought Chapman, the original writer of the song, to the number-one spot on the Country Songwriters chart in June 2023. When Combs' "Fast Car" hit number one on the Country Airplay chart in July 2023, Chapman broke a record because she became "the first Black woman as a song's sole writer to top the [Country Airplay] chart since its debut in 1990," according to Billboard. The cover has also been lucrative for Chapman due to the royalties she receives as the writer.

Chapman is a very private person, but she spoke to Billboard in July 2023 about the cover. "I never expected to find myself on the country charts, but I'm honored to be there," she told the outlet. "I'm happy for Luke and his success and grateful that new fans have found and embraced 'Fast Car.'"

Combs' personal connection to 'Fast Car'

Luke Combs responded to Tracy Chapman's comments and called "Fast Car" a "perfect song," according to Billboard. He explained how the song hadn't left him since his father introduced him to it, and that he's been performing it at concerts for over six years. "The success of my cover is unreal and I think it's so cool that Tracy is getting recognized and has reached new milestones," he said. "I love that she is out there feeling all the love and that she gave me a shout-out! Thank you, Tracy!"

Before Chapman spoke about the cover, Combs shared a video on Instagram in May 2023. Taken during a performance, in the clip Combs explained why he recorded "Fast Car." The "Beautiful Crazy" singer told the crowd a story from his youth about riding around in his father's car and listening to the music his father would play.

"He played me all kinds of music," Combs said. "And one of the first songs that I remember hearing, he popped a cassette in and I loved this whole album, and there was this one song that really stuck out to me though, and it was called 'Fast Car.'" At the mention of Chapman's hit, the crowd went wild. Combs said the track was meaningful to him because it reminded him of his father. He also said that was the first song he tried to learn on the guitar. 

Combs and Chapman are set to team up at an awards show

When his cover of "Fast Car" won an award, Luke Combs made sure to give Tracy Chapman a shout-out. The cover won Single of the Year at the 2023 Country Music Awards, and Combs thanked Chapman in his acceptance speech. He explained how he chose to record the song because it's dear to him. "It's meant so much to me throughout my entire life," Combs added. "It's [the] first favorite song that I ever had from the time I was four years old."

At the CMAs that year, Chapman also got recognized as a winner when "Fast Car" won Song of the Year. Presenter Sara Evans shared a statement from Chapman that said it was "an honor for my song to be newly recognized after 35 years of its debut ... and special thanks to Luke and all the fans of 'Fast Car.'" 

Variety reported that at the 2024 Grammys, Combs and Chapman are set to perform "Fast Car" together — which is a huge deal because Chapman does not perform much anymore. This will be the second time the track is performed at the Grammy Awards, the first time being when Chapman sang it at the show in 1989.