December 14, 2017


By itchysilk In MUSIC

In this instalment of #IntoTheVaults we look at the talented and constantly covered Tracy Chapman.

It’s been a while since Tracy Chapman released an album. The last being Our Bright Future (2008) released on the Elektra label. A near 9-year silence (and counting) has followed that album. However there enough material to satiate any appetite. After all, the Cleveland native has been lavishing listeners with material for three decades. Eight albums have produced a multitude of Grammy Awards and numerous top ten singles. While the word ‘conscious’ has become a bit of a cliché and to an extent slightly trite, there is a consciousness to her sound which has made her popular.

Many tracks deserve streams of adulation; think Fast Cars released from her eponymous debut album. As the lead single it captured the music world. It stated clearly that Tracy Chapman was a singer songwriter of high calibre. Far from complicated musical structures and complexed lyrics it was the innate simplicity that was addictive.

While we have that great Grammy award winning single, in this #ITV we go with Talking ‘Bout A Revolution also off the debut album. In many ways this single (initially) suffered due to the plethora of other huge singles on that debut album-another classic was of course Baby Can I Hold You. Talking ‘Bout A Revolution had limited popularity when it was released. Across the shores however the single had much more success. Now the single widely recognised as another Tracy Chapman classic.

The single displayed her socially active self. Significantly, the graduate in Anthropology and African Studies made a name voicing strong opinions without necessarily taking a Malcom X stance. Far from a cry for arms, the single leaned towards instigation. It urged and hankered for equality. It’s relevance at the time evidently stemming from the political climate courtesy of the Reagan (1981-89) and Snr (1989-93) administrations. Both tenures contributing to the widening divide between rich and poor. Significantly in the 19 poverty particularly within the urban communities reached unprecedented levels.

Today the levels of poverty in these communities remains at worrying levels. Today Tracy Chapman’s song remains painfully relevant.