In this song, Chapman sings from the perspective of a woman whose life isn't working out as she hoped. She's with a guy who's unemployed, lazy and unsupportive - she works at the convenience store to pay the bills while he's drinking at the bar.
In the chorus, we hear why she's with him: Long ago, he made her feel like like she belonged, and that they could have a fulfilling and exciting life together. Riding in his fast car, his arm around her shoulder, all was right.
Speaking with Q magazine, Chapman said: "It's not really about a car at all... basically it's about a relationship that doesn't work out because it's starting from the wrong place."
This won the Grammy Award in 1989 for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
This song returned to the UK singles chart in April 2011 after it was performed by contestant Michael Collings on the first edition of the fifth series of Britain's Got Talent.
When the then-unknown Tracy Chapman was booked to appear down the bill at the Nelson Mandela birthday concert at Wembley Stadium on June 11, 1988, little did she know her appearance would be the catalyst for a career breakthrough. After performing several songs from her self titled debut during the afternoon, Chapman thought she'd done her bit and could relax and enjoy the rest of the concert. However, later in the evening Stevie Wonder was delayed when the computer discs for his performance went missing, and Chapman was ushered back onto stage again. In front of a huge prime time audience she performed "Fast Car" alone with her acoustic guitar. Afterwards the song raced up the charts on both sides of the Atlantic.
Two popular dance music cover versions were released near the end of 2015.
The producer Jonas Blue was just 21 when he released his version; he wasn't alive when the original was released, but it was one of his mother's favorite songs, so he heard it a lot growing up in England. He struggled to find a vocalist to bring the song to life, but he hit the mark when he tried a young singer named Dakota, whom he spotted performing in a pub. She ended up being the vocalist on the track. This version went to #1 in Australia and was a hit across Europe, reaching #2 in the UK. In America, it went to #1 on the Dance chart.
Around this same time, the Swedish remix man Tobtok (Tobias Karlsson) released his version with another mononymed vocalist, River. This version, which was accompanied by a video, was a modest hit in Australia, reaching #19.