Sam Smith Does Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” Justice

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Sept. 4 2014 12:39 PM

Sam Smith Does Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” Justice

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LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 25: Singer Sam Smith performs at the Red Bull Sound Space at 97.1 AMP Radio on August 25, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Chelsea Lauren/Getty Images for AMP Radio)

Photo by Chelsea Lauren/Getty Images for AMP Radio

Over the weekend, Postmodern Jukebox jazzed up (literally) Sam Smith’s breakthrough single “Stay With Me.” Now Smith has done something similar with an elegant cover of Tracy Chapman’s 1988 hit, “Fast Car,” for BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge. As in his previous cover of Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know,” Smith offers an emotional vocal performance over the easy-listening instrumental treatment, doing justice to Chapman’s poignant reflection on tiptoeing the poverty line. His delivery of the line, “I had a feeling I could be someone” is particularly good.

Though the song’s been covered dozens of times over the last quarter century, I’d like to think this one would especially make Chapman proud.

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Dee Lockett is Slate's editorial assistant for culture.