'No Mistaking Who Owned That Song'

Luke Combs gives Tracy Chapman her due on stage at the Grammys
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2024 12:57 PM CST
Tracy Chapman Proves 'Fast Car' Is Her Own
Tracy Chapman performs "Fast Car" during the 66th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Tracy Chapman made a rare public appearance at the Grammys Sunday night, taking the stage with country singer Luke Combs for a duet of "Fast Car." When Combs covered Chapman's decades-old hit last year, Lydia Polgreen wasn't thrilled because he didn't seem to bring anything new to it, she writes in the New York Times. After watching them perform together, she is more understanding. The song is a brilliant homage to "working class people and the yearning for life with dignity and freedom," she writes.

  • "Combs seems to have known that, unlike white artists who have absorbed, reinterpreted and profited from Black music throughout American history, he had nothing to add but his wholehearted endorsement," Polgreen writes. "There was no mistaking who owned that song on that stage. And so at the end of his performance he genuflected to Chapman, who received a rapturous ovation."
Meanwhile, the song quickly climbed to No. 1 in the iTunes chart, 36 years after its release, following the performance at the Grammys, per NPR. (Celine Dion made a surprise appearance as a presenter.)

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