Song of the Day: Fast Car - Tracy Chapman

Tracy Chapman
Fast Car
I'm planning on taking a road trip the second summer is officially here. I love the phrase, you got a fast car and I want a ticket to anywhere. I hardly have a fast car, but the idea of driving in the car singing along to music, led me to think of Chapman's Fast Car. I haven't heard this song for a very long time. It originally came out in 1988, and I remember driving with the window down, singing along to her lovely voice.

 I never felt the hard luck lyrics applied to me, and to be honest, I still don't, even now. I'm a lucky girl. The majority of my ancestors were immigrants, but I have the good fortune of being fifth generation American, born to a family in which the American Dream was pretty much assured from the moment they disembarked in San Franscisco, and got busy making their new lives. This is a simplified statement of the facts of how I came to be where I am, and my family is right now, because of the opportunity, choice, luck, of those who came before us. I  am working, trying to work a lot smarter these last five years, to ensure that this dream is still available for my children.

I've posted the lyrics because they illustrate just how quickly reality changes.The meaning of the lyrics have taken on even more gravitas lately, for residents here in the states, and for those trying for the promise America holds. The promise is still there, but it's not the same as it was way back in 1988, or as late as 2008. With the recession, unemployment, draconian immigration laws, there is a new normal. The American Dream is finding its new normal.
You got a fast car
And I want a ticket to go anywhere
Maybe we make a deal
Maybe together we can get somewhere
Anyplace is better
Starting from zero got nothing to lose
Maybe we'll make something
But me myself I got nothing to prove

You got a fast car
And I got a plan to get us out of here
I been working at the convenience store
Managed to save just a little bit of money
We won't have to drive too far
Just 'cross the border and into the city
You and I can both get jobs
And finally see what it means to be living

You see my old man's got a problem
He live with the bottle that's the way it is
He says his body's too old for working
I say his body's too young to look like his
My mama went off and left him
She wanted more from life than he could give
I said somebody's got to take care of him
So I quit school and that's what I did

You got a fast car
But is it fast enough so we can fly away
We gotta make a decision
We leave tonight or live and die this way

I remember we were driving driving in your car
The speed so fast I felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped 'round my shoulder
And I had a feeling that I belonged
And I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone

You got a fast car
And we go cruising to entertain ourselves
You still ain't got a job
And I work in a market as a checkout girl
I know things will get better
You'll find work and I'll get promoted
We'll move out of the shelter
Buy a big house and live in the suburbs

You got a fast car
And I got a job that pays all our bills
You stay out drinking late at the bar
See more of your friends than you do of your kids
I'd always hoped for better
Thought maybe together you and me would find it
I got no plans I ain't going nowhere
So take your fast car and keep on driving

You got a fast car
But is it fast enough so you can fly away
You gotta make a decision
You leave tonight or live and die this way

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