Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car (No Judgement)

I noticed I forgot to mention that one of my non-material loves is music. I guess it’s become so intrinsic to me, that I perhaps let it slip through my fingers – a little like the fact that I have jet black hair. Or that I’m right-handed (sorry for disappointing you artist-types). If it’s any consolation, my thoughts are scattered just like my to-do list and my room. Apparently creative minds are just all over the place.

Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car is not only one of my favorite songs, but a song that confuses my emotions and aural reactions. It is a song that is extremely catchy and easy to listen to, with that simple, repetitive guitar riff, yet leaves me with a bittersweet aftertaste. It’s also worth noting Chapman’s deep, alto vocals – my brother mistook her for a man when he first listened to the song on radio.

I think Ms. Chapman succeeds in telling the story of generational poverty without the regular preachiness, and she does so sincerely. The vicious cycle continues for many reasons – having to give up education in order to look after an alcoholic parent, a bad decision with unfortunate consequences and finally abandoned hopes, where you can neither let go or move forward.

A friend of mine said to me that Pink’s song, “Dear Mr. President” sounded overly preachy, even though it was quite a popular song at the time. Though I’m sure her intentions were good, I had to sadly agree. The song places too much blame and emphasis on ‘the man’ without looking internally, or at other factors. It comes off as a little insincere, because of the fact that Pink is a major recording artist and she probably should have titled it “Dear Wall Street Bankers.”

The song taught me to never look purely at the outermost layers of a portrait again. There is just too much that is left untold, too much that is covered up. Unless we take the time to uncover the truth, all we can do is assume. And you know whenever we do that, we have a huge chance of messing up and making an ass out of ourselves.

There is also the chance that we may end up scraping layers too deeply, damaging the layers beneath. So usually we just keep our distance and admire or sneer at the painting. What we should be doing is keeping an open mind, and taking the time to be genuinely interested and concerned for the picture. The whole picture.

I found myself sitting next to a young, Muslim woman at the social welfare office a few months back. Normally I am very reserved around people I don’t know, but I always try to make the effort to offer up conversation if I feel the need to. I asked her if she was a student.

“Yes. I am. Are you?”

“Oh no. I was one, I’ve graduated. What do you study?”

“I study at the school just over here. I’m studying early childhood education.”

We talked a little more about how I was looking for a job and then came the truth. I didn’t know how I had not noticed that she was pregnant before I sat next to her. Maybe it was because she had large, dark brown eyes and was wearing colorful sneakers, that it didn’t even occur to me as a possibility.

“I’m pregnant right now. I had a miscarriage before because I was looking after the kids and chasing them around.”

I told her that she should rest and look after her baby. We then talked about other things like family, how long she had been here and other miscellaneous topics. Before long, she had to talk with the case manager. She smiled and waved goodbye to me as she left, and I was up next.


3 thoughts on “Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car (No Judgement)

    1. Believe me, I even wanted more. Though so little time had passed between us, so much had been shared.

      She had actually told me during that conversation that she had seen me around before. I live not too far from the school she was studying at, so I have a feeling I’ll see her again.


  1. Thanks for responding to my comment Eli. I look forward to hearing someday what took you off for some time. I pray you meet the Muslim girl again.It would be nice to hear more about her. In the mean time, have fun; and may your light continue to shine!


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