Learn how to play Fast Car on one acoustic guitar!

Tracy Chapman‘s ‘Fast Car’ was one of three massive hits from her self-titled debut album.

The other two songs, ‘Baby Can I Hold You’ and ‘Talkin’ About A Revolution‘ firmly cemented Tracy as the world’s favourite busker.

My one guitar version of ‘Fast Car’ varies slightly from how Tracy play the riff, instead of moving up the neck, I found a way to play it using open position chords.


Chord progression

The chords in ‘Fast Car’ are simple, using only chord IV – I – VI – V on a loop over the seemingly never ending verse. The chords become this (if you think of this song as if in the key of G):

| Cmaj7 G | Em7 D |

During the chorus, we change from playing a fingerstyle picking pattern to a strumming technique instead. The chords first remain the same, just take up a bar each, like this:

| C | G | Em | D |
| C Em | D | x2
| C D |

Apply a capo to fret 2 and you’re actually in the key of A, saying that, you want to think of it as if you’re in the key of G.

Here’s a video lesson with a close-up of the right hand so you can see more clearly how the fingerstyle pattern is executed.


Spy Tunes Vs Tracy’s version

You might have noticed that my version look different from Tracy’s version. Tracy Chapman plays this song further up the neck. I found it easier to play the same part using open position chords.

The part can also be adapted to using an open G tuning, or alternatively, a dropped G tuning. Find out more in the intermediate course where we study ‘Fast Car’ in depth, including how Tracy plays the part.

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