Our Top 10 Tracy Chapman Songs lists introduce us to a Grammy Award-winning female artist whose songwriting and vocals have been core to her success. Her love for music would begin when she possessed a ukulele at age three, only to start playing the guitar beautifully and writing songs five years later. Throughout the years, Tracy Chapman was still enthusiastic about music playing her guitar while writing and singing. She would make her major-stage debut as the opening act for musician Linda Tillery at Boston’s Strand Theater back in 1985.
Koppelman would sign Tracy Chapman to Tufts in 1986, who after graduation guided her to sign for Elektra Records in 1987. By 1988, Tracy Chapman had her eponymous debut album ready for release. Tracy Chapman (1988) received critical acclaim having Tracy begin touring to perform her releases, which helped build a large fanbase. Since her debut album, Tracy Chapman has been a common face in the music industry, releasing hit songs almost in her albums. She is known to separate her personal life from her music profession, which might be a weakness for many artists. Here are the top 10 Tracy Chapman that has been the highlight moment for this award-winning vocalist.
#10 – The Promise
Ushering us to the top 10 Tracy Chapman songs is the hit song “The Promise” from her fourth album. “The Promise” adds to the catalog of songs that helped award Tracy Chapman’s New Beginning numerous album sales. The song is about a lady who misses her lover, wishing that they would spend time together again. Its title is not mentioned anywhere in the lyrics; hence most refer to the song with the opening line “If You Wait For Me.”
#9 – Change
When change comes knocking, not everyone might be willing to take its course, even when the change is positive. Featured on Tracy Chapman’s 2005 album, “Change” is about people who are obstinate to change. She asks what life-changing experience or influence would such people go encounter to accept change for the better. It’s lovely and quite soothing seeing Tracy Chapman play her guitar as she sings this ballad that seems to point to the betterment of humanity through acceptance of the positive change.
#8 – Stand By Me
Tracy Chapman impressed many when she covered Ben E. King’s song “Stand By Me.” Without a doubt, Tracy Chapman can channel her emotions better than many, as evidenced in this song. She performed a heart-stopping rendition as a special send-off to David Letterman. “Stand By Me” was one of Ben E. King’s best songs that helped him gain a solid reputation in his solo career. Tracy Chapman would also make her name with the haunting performance to this moving testimony of Ben E. King’s musical legacy.
#7 – Telling Stories
Released in 2000, “Telling Stories” will be remembered as one of Tracy Chapman’s greatest songs of all time. Thanks to her great voice that she does not struggle with within her songs, the song is quite a gem among other songs. “Telling Stories” brings Tracy Chapman’s poetic songwriting skills to life. The bus in this song symbolizes the road of our lives and how preposterous we seem to be if something takes us out of context. Inside the bus, the characters epitomize the unearthing and concealment of the truth of different aspects of life.
#6 – Bang Bang Bang
Next at number 6 is “Bang Bang Bang” from Tracy Chapman’s third studio album Matters of the Heart. By far, Tracy Chapman seems to be aware of the heartache of the world we live in. She uses “Bang Bang Bang” to talk about the problems of racism, classism, and the ever-present cycle of violence. However, she brings out the fact that we create poverty and force poverty amongst people, and still the same who wonder why they become violent to us.
#5 – Crossroads
Featured on her 1989 second studio album, “Crossroads” presents Tracy Chapman in a somber mood where she reflects on the struggles and pain in life. This perfect opener to her album finds Tracy expressing misgivings over the attention that came with her sudden rise to fame. The song was so great that the posthumous Tupac song featuring Elton John sampled its main riff and melody. “Crossroads” received quite a nice reception having its peak at number 90 on the Billboard Hot 100.
#4 – Talkin’ Bout a Revolution
Released in her debut album, “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution” is an empowering political anthem that many of the oppressed reckon. Tracy Chapman penned one of the best lyrics that awarded her immediate critical acclaim despite her young age. “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution” is a class warfare song peppered by a strong caution that the poor will rise and take what’s theirs. It remains to be one of the magnificent compositions about working-class life. Tracy Chapman would capture the heart of many when she sang this song on the Nelson Mandela televised 70th Birthday tribute.
#3 – Baby Can I Hold You
“Baby Can I Hold You” is a classic love song that reveals how Tracy Chapman’s conversational lyrics charm a wide-reaching relatability. We all have different expectations and experiences with love. Tracy desired to receive a nice treatment and be looked after. In this song, she expresses that she wishes to maintain an intimate, deep connection with her lover, hearing from him things she loves to hear. The song reached a peak position of number 48 in the Billboard Hot 100.
#2 – Give Me One Reason
Written by Tracy Chapman in the 1980s, “Give Me One Reason” would be released in her 1996 album, New Beginning, after being recorded in 1995. The song is a blues love song with an impertinent slant daring you to argue with her to get her to stay. “Give Me One Reason” appeared in numerous seasons of the TV show American Idol. Even though the song was not purely a rock song, it went ahead to win the Grammys for the Best Rock Song.
#1 – Fast Car
At number one is the hit song “Fast Car” from Tracy Chapman’s eponymous debut album, yet another Grammy Award-winning song. Tracy Chapman received a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1989 for this ballad. She sings from a perspective of a lady whose life is a mess compared to what she envisioned in the song. Misery begins when she falls for an unsupportive guy, who is unemployed, and, worst of all, is lazy! The song points to relationships that don’t work because they are or were built on the wrong foundation.
Top 10 Tracy Chapman Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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