The Year in Music 2023: Luke Combs takes Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” on one of the best rides of the year

When authenticity crosses paths with what fans want, sometimes what you get is a phenomenon like Luke Combs‘ cover of Tracy Chapman‘s “Fast Car.” 

For his part, the North Carolina native sees his relationship with the 1988 pop hit as purely personal: it’s one of the first tunes he remembers being his favorite as a child, though he wasn’t even born until 1990. It went on to become his motivation to play guitar and a song he’s long covered in concert. He’s said he only recorded it for himself, that it was never intended to be a single. 

But when it came out in March 2023 as part of his surprise Gettin’ Old album, all that changed.

The folksy, guitar-driven pop tune would top Billboard’s Country Airplay chart for five weeks in a row, and go on to become both Single and Song of the Year at November’s CMA Awards. The double-Platinum hit would also top the Hot AC tally, making Luke the first male solo artist ever to hit #1 on both charts.

Perhaps even more incredibly, Luke would also take Chapman’s song back to the pop charts — a place the superstar has said he had little interest in going, unless it was with a country effort. All totaled, “Fast Car” revved its engine in the top five of the Billboard Hot 100 for 18 weeks, spending eight of those at #2. 

By comparison, Tracy’s version only made it to #6 back in the day, making Luke’s version a bigger hit than the original. 

To date, Luke and Tracy have never ridden in the “Fast Car” together. At last check, the country superstar hadn’t connected with the hit’s creator, though she sent a note to the CMA accepting their Song honor.

Since the “Fast Car” accolades have likely only begun, here’s to many opportunities in 2024 for the reclusive Chapman and Combs to perform the monster hit together.

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