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Flashback Video: 'Fast Car' by Tracy Chapman

Ever since the dawn of MTV and Friday Night Videos, the music video has significantly impacted musical tastes and pop culture. It might not be as extreme as when the Buggles declared that "Video Killed the Radio Star", but there is no arguing that the music video certainly could make or break a song's popularity. So this regular Flashback Video feature will serve to remember some of the music videos from the great '80s decade that made an impact on me in one way or another.


This issue we will cover "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman. She burst onto the music scene back in June 1988 when she performed at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert. She had recently released her self-titled debut album and her first single “Fast Car” began its rise on the U.S. charts. Her album would actually top the U.S. album chart at the end of August and "Fast Car" song would eventually reach #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 as well as go on to win the Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1989 (along with being nominated for both Song of the Year and Record of the Year, too). Chapman would also win the Grammy for Best New Artist beating out the likes of Rick Astley and Vanessa Williams that year.

The music video for "Fast Car" was directed by Matt Mahurin who began directing videos in the mid-80s and has gone on to a prolific career in that industry. Prior to working with Chapman, Mahurin had directed U2 "With or Without You", Peter Gabriel "Red Rain", Sting "Gabriel's Message" and R.E.M. "Orange Crush" among others. In the early '90s, he directed hits like Metallica "Unforgiven" and Queensryche "Silent Lucidity" and continued successfully for the decades to follow. For most of "Fast Car", Chapman stands in shadows in front of several photographs and sings the song while playing guitar. Relatively simple, but very poignant at the same time. here is the music video for "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman...

The song sounded like nothing that was being played on pop radio at the time. The fact that this song was successful and became popular astounds me. Not so much musically because it has a beautiful melody, but more because of the subject matter and that its haunting folk sound was so different from what dominated late-80s pop music. It actually impresses me that the listening public was so open minded and accepting of “Fast Car.” It also went on to receive a MTV Video Music Award nomination for Best Female Video in 1989 (losing out to Paula Abdul's "Straight Up").


Hope you enjoyed another trip back to the '80s thanks to Flashback Video!

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