Tag Archives: Tracy Chapman

Message In Our Music: A Black Music Month Playlist

In 1979, President Jimmy Carter declared June Black Music Month. In 2016, President Barack Obama, who recognized the month as African-American Music Appreciation Month, said the music of African-American artists helped the country “to dance, to express our faith through song, to march against injustice, and to defend our country’s enduring promise of freedom and opportunity for all.” Today’s Tunes du Jour playlist embodies that sentiment.

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Nineties R&B

Today is Janet’s birthday!

The most popular r&b group of the nineties was probably Boyz II Mej3y64t.,huy

Sorry. My head hit the keyboard. Just typing that group’s name puts me to sleep. I find their music devoid of personality, emphasizing vocal histrionics over soul-felt passion. They should call themselves Boyz II Meh! Am I right, people? Tip your waitstaff.

Much of nineties r&b suffers from the same. Technique over feeling. Not all, though. I’m not damning a whole genre with a wide paintbrush, or whatever that expression is.

Today’s playlist showcases twenty of the best r&b hits from last millennium’s last decade, the decade being 1990 to 1999, for the purposes of this post. Nothing obscure this time. All of these songs received a fair amount of airplay back in the day.

If I missed any of your favorites, let me know in the comments section, unless it’s a song by Boyz II Mebg;hev.

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A Hint Of Mint – Volume 82: LGBTQ Music From 1987 To 1988

As we wrap up 1987 and move into 1988, we get the first music from Tracy Chapman as well as Morrissey’s first post-Smiths work. Neither artist has publicly proclaimed their sexual orientation as lesbian or gay, but I don’t consider them to be in the closet. Sometimes it’s hard to decide whether or not to include an act who is believed to be gay despite not publicly coming out. I take ’em one by one.

Also included is the comeback hit for Aerosmith, in which Stephen Tyler isn’t deterred by finding out the lady he fancies is not actually a lady.

This playlist consists of twenty songs, most performed by artists who fall somewhere under the LGBTQ umbrella, a couple with queer lyrical content.


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Throwback Thursday – 1996

Per the site WhoSampled.com, Joe Cocker’s “Woman to Woman” (1972) has been sampled 24 times. Joe Cocker! Twenty-four times! Who knew?

The best-known track to sample “Woman to Woman” is 2Pac’s “California Love,” which utilizes the instrumental riff from the beginning of the Cocker song as one of its hooks. Here is “Woman to Woman:”

“California Love” kicks off this week’s Throwback Thursday playlist, spotlighting the music of 1996.


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A Hint Of Mint – Volume 55: Relaxing On A Sunday Afternoon

Mellow rock for a chill day. Artists include David Bowie, Tracy Chapman and Lou Reed.


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Throwback Thursday – Hit Songs Of 1988

me in WoodbridgeThe blogger in 1988

On this week’s Throwback Thursday playlist, we listen to some of the biggest hits from 1988.


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A Hint Of Mint: Marriage

Marriage between two consenting non-related adults is now legal throughout the United States!

This week’s installment of A Hint of Mint features songs related to marriage, performed by artists from the LGBTQQISA communities. It is with great pleasure that I can write that some of the entries are outdated, though still a fun listen.

If you like the playlist, please click the heart button on the 8tracks page.

Get ready to say I do I do I do I do I do!


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The Greatness Of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car”

Ringo + Tracy
A few months back I mentioned that I am assembling a list of my top 100 albums of all-time. Presently hovering around #30 is Tracy Chapman’s debut album. My introduction to the album was via its first single, the exceptional “Fast Car,” a song that manages to captivate and impress me twenty-six years after its release.

Her singing on the track deservedly won Chapman the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female; however, it is the song’s structure that wows me each listen.

Most pop songs start with two verses and then go into the chorus or they start with the chorus and then go into the verses. “Fast Car” starts with four verses, which lay out the situation in which our narrator finds herself. The second line tells us of her desperation to escape where she is – “I want a ticket to anywhere.” The song’s first line, and the first line of all but one of the verses, is “You got a fast car.” This fast car will be her means of escape, with the word “fast” representing the urgency to start over. She doesn’t yet know what she and the car’s owner will do, but she throws out a few vague optimistic lines, all starting with the word “maybe” – “Maybe we make a deal,” “Maybe together we can get somewhere,” “Maybe we’ll make something.” It’s worth the shot, because she has nowhere to go but up – “Anyplace is better / Starting from zero got nothing to lose.”

In verse two, after singing “You got a fast car,” she tells us she came up with a plan. She has a job and is saving money so they can climb into the fast car and get moving. They “won’t have to drive too far” to “finally see what it means to be living.”

In verse three she gives us some back story – her father’s an alcoholic who won’t look for work. Her mother “wanted more from life than he could give” so she left her husband and her daughter, leaving our narrator to quit school to take care of her dad. This is the verse that doesn’t open with “You got a fast car,” as this is the only verse in which she isn’t singing of her hope for the future. This verse takes place in the past.

With the listener now knowing her situation, we fully understand her need to escape. The fourth verse lays it out: “You got a fast car / Is it fast enough so we can fly away / We gotta make a decision / Leave tonight or live and die this way.”

Finally, we get to the chorus, where she reminisces about them driving together in the car, “speed so fast felt like I was drunk.” Some drink to escape their problems; riding in a fast car is the narrator’s way of escape. When she’s in the car she expresses hope in the future, with the past in the rearview mirror and what lies ahead right in front of them. They are both in this together. The car’s owner puts his/her arm around the narrator’s shoulder, and our protagonist “had a feeling that I belonged / I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone.” The chorus is all about the hope symbolized by the fast car. Interestingly, it is louder – both vocally and instrumentally – than the verses, reflecting the optimism in our narrator’s words. However, by ending the chorus with the repetition of “be someone, be someone, be someone” she appears to be coming out of this daydream.

From this point on the song alternates a verse with the chorus. In verse five the narrator tells us that her partner is still without a job, but she remains optimistic, singing “I know things will get better.”

The chorus comes back with one word altered. The first time it is sung, the chorus starts with “So remember we were driving, driving in your car.” This time she sings “I remember….” One letter fewer, yet oh so telling. They were in it together; now she’s noticing that maybe that is no longer their reality, making the lines “I had a feeling that I belonged / I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone” more heartbreaking.

In verse six the narrator recognizes that her present situation is a repeat of the situation she previously escaped – supporting an unemployed alcoholic, and just like her mother did, she knows she has to get out of this cycle. The verse opens with “You got a fast car,” but that fast car no longer represents her means of escape. As such, the verse closes with her telling her partner to “take your fast car and keep on driving.”

After a final round of the chorus, we get to the song’s final verse. The listener knows the narrator’s situation and we and she understand her need to escape it. She lays it out to her partner. The seventh verse is a repeat of the fourth verse, but as she cleverly did with the chorus, she changes one word – “we” to “you:” “You got a fast car / But is it fast enough so you can fly away / You gotta make a decision / Leave tonight or live and die this way.” Starting over last time didn’t work out as she planned, so she’ll try again.

This amazing song was nominated for Grammys for Song of the Year and Record of the Year, but lost both to Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” I’m usually not in favor of the death penalty, but whoever voted for the McFerrin song over this one should fry. The woman living in poverty, taking care of her alcoholic unemployed partner should not worry and be happy? Fuck you!

The Tracy Chapman album was nominated for Album of the Year, but lost to George Michael’s Faith, which is around #31 on my top albums list.

Tunes du Jour recognizes the great Tracy Chapman, who turns 50 today.

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Human Rights Day

human rights day

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” – Nelson Mandela (1918 – 2013)

Today is Human Rights Day. Here is your soundtrack:

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Did You Know Sara Bareilles Released An Album This Year?

grammy plaqueI’ve worked on nearly every Grammy compilation release since the first one.

The nominees for the 56th annual Grammy Awards were announced last Friday. The nominations always elicit strong reactions from music fans. I’m pleased with many of the Academy’s selections (Go Kendrick Lamar and Daft Punk!) and puzzled by others (Ed Sheeran is nominated for Best New Artist. Last year he was nominated for Song of the Year. Was he pre-new then?).

Today’s Tunes du Jour playlist consists of some of the tracks that have won Record of the Year. I choose to focus on the positive. I refuse to bash the Grammy voters for when they got it wrong (such as, for example, when they gave Record of the Year to Bobby McFerrin for “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” What the hell was that about? That record won over Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car.” Are you kidding me?).

Herewith are some of the better Record of the Year winners.

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