Tracy Chapman, Luke Combs Share a Grammy Moment with “Fast Car”

Stunning. And even more than any of us anticipated.

When we heard that the reclusive Tracy Chapman had agreed to appear at the 66th Annual Grammy Awards to sing “Fast Car” with Luke Combs, we knew it could be something special. It was certainly that. Even if your appreciation for Chapman and “Fast Car” is pedestrian, it was hard to not get goosebumps when she emerged from the shadows like a ghost from the past—the silver streaks adorning her iconic dreadlocks—as the notes from “Fast Car’s” iconic melody gently broke the silence.

The pricks on your skin, the lump in your throat, and the welling in your heart told you this wouldn’t be just another “performance.”

This is Tracy Chapman’s song, and everyone knows that. Luke Combs may be the unlikely vessel that accidentally forwarded “Fast Car” to a new generation. It was an album cut that became a cultural phenomenon. And rest assured, Luke Combs is just as flabbergasted as the rest of us that it went to the top of the charts and he was standing there on stage Sunday night with Tracy Effin’ Chapman singing that song.

One of the knocks on Luke’s version of “Fast Car” has been how it’s not really that country. The studio track is more of a dry recitation of the song, just with Combs singing as opposed to Tracy and a little steel guitar low in the mix. But the arrangement at the Grammys definitely gave it a more country feel with prominent fiddle.

And like Luke Combs has been doing from the very beginning of this whole phenomenon, he gave all credit to Chapman, bowing and waving his hands in the international sign for “I’m not worthy” at the end of the performance. And by the way, what a moment for Luke Combs. As a kid who learned “Fast Car” as one of his very first songs, this had to be a dream come true for him, and it’s one of those moments where every music fan and fellow musician can enjoy it vicariously through him.

Since the “Fast Car” collaboration happened rather early in the Grammy presentation, you kind of expected things to go off the rails from there. After all, the Grammys are notorious for their garish costumes and choreographed gesticulations by pop stars trying to make up for a lack of substance. But the 2024 Grammy Awards didn’t really feel like that.

This year’s Grammys had an unprecedented 30-minute In Memorium segment uninterrupted by commercial that included numerous full song performances. Lucius, Sistastrings, Brandy Carlile, Allison Russell, and others joined Joni Mitchell for her first Grammy performance at 80. Billie Eilish’s performance of the ballad from the Barbie movie “What Was I Made For” was also a surprisingly understated moment, and the track ended up winning Song of the Year in an otherwise weak field.

There were still some subpar moments. At least nobody got trampled to death during Travis Scott’s performance. But overall, there was little to complain about, and much to be entertained and moved by.

As for the winners (see full list of country/roots winners here), everything seemed about right in line. Jason Isbell deserved accolades for Weathervanes. It was made right to Allison Russell after it felt like she deserved a Grammy in 2023. Zach Bryan didn’t win for Best Country Album, but he did walk away with best Vocal Duo/Group Performance with “I Remember Everything” feat. Kacey Musgraves.

And though Tyler Childers feels like he deserves a Grammy, I’m not sure he does for Rustin’ in the Rain. It feels like we’ve been waiting to get Tyler’s full effort and attention since 2017.

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Joni Mitchell fans may feel differently, and so might Swifties after she walked away with her record-setting fourth Album of the Year win. But for most, the crown jewel of the 2024 Grammy Awards was Tracy Chapman and Luke Combs sharing a “moment” with the rest of us.

To see the full performance on the Grammy website, CLICK HERE.

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