ACROSS THE BORDER
Where the banned are
Selected by @SteveInJoburg .
I’m one of those who thought the 1st album very good, with the obvious stand-out, but didn’t make the effort to stay in touch with TC as subsequent music appeared. I can only apologise.
I listened to this and immediately realised what a fool I’d been.
Stifling the urge to rush off and listen to other albums, I decided to really soak this one up before moving on. 5 or 6 listens over the last 3 days. 3000 Miles, Before Easter and America were the immediate stand-outs but really there isn’t a filler track on this.
Have you been exploring the rest of her catalog? I think every album is a gem. She's a living example of quality over quantity - but, damn, I want more of her music. I often wonder if there's much in her vault. A collection of previously unreleased Tracy Chapman would get some deep play around my place.
@Jerseyfornia Still stuck on Steve’s recommendation! Not generally a ‘spiritual‘ sort of a guy but finding this calming, soothing and hopeful. Precisely whats needed in these shit times.
Thinking once I have some more listening space I’ll start at the start and work thru them chronologically.
Currently doing ‘homework’ listening for a string of gigs coming up. (See the album listening thread, I’ll give a summary there….)
@Walkerinthesun Calming, soothing and hopeful. Couldn't agree more... The more time goes by, the more amazed and grateful I am that I got to see this incredible lady on stage not once, but twice. And both times, she had the same effect. It's like she enchants or casts a spell over the audience. Everyone is happy, calm, smiling, slightly teary eyed... I genuinely have never experienced anything like it with anyone else. And her records are much the same... They don't disappoint and don't age.
Listen to this, and try imagine what it was like to be looking onto a stage with one spotlight, one diminutive figure in dreads in front of a microphone singing Amazing Grace acapella. Its very hard to describe how amazing that was. Yes, this isn't the same but it's just as beautiful.
Mayhap this can become the all encompassing Tracy Chapman thread?
This is one of my favourite songs by her. They even created a music video of it to market her Greatest Hits album in 2015.
I had forgotten what a beautiful voice Tracy has.
My favourite from this album is "Don't Dwell". I really like the gentle guitar playing which allows her voice to soar. The other stand out track for me is "Before Easter" which I find very moving and quite different to the other tracks.
The only one I'm not keen on is "Talk to You" where I found the incessant drum beat grating.
A very good choice.
Love this song, love the drumming so much... It sounds African to me.
@SteveInJoburg am I right?
I think Tracy Chapman is so special. She has a unique voice and an unmistakable singing style. Whatever she has to say is coming from the depths, she comes across as an extremely sincere songwriter. I'm hearing hope, acceptance, and healing even when she is dealing with the hardest of issues.
I can't say which my favorite album is, might just be New Beginning, but I'm not quite sure. Love all. Was listening to all of them over the weekend, and absolutely enjoyed every minute of it.
Steve's choice is also a gorgeous album. My favorite tracks are Change and Never Yours.
I wrote this before going to bed, and the English word affirmation woke me up at 4 am. That's what her music feels like to me.
@Louisa this choice was a toss up between Where You Live and New Beginning. That album has a very special place for me as when I saw her live, she was touring that record. My memory is that her band was mostly (if not all) female musicians. And they were incredible. I still get goosebumps remembering some of that album live, like Tell It Like It Is, with the percussion... It was otherworldly.
But I chose WYL because it's just the most beautiful album, start to finish and I think for anyone unfamiliar with her work, totally accessible. I also think the production is outstanding. Her voice is front and centre with the instruments being allowed space around her. I can't ever imagine the sound of this music dating as it is not of any specific era, to me.
I completely agree with all JF and yourself said above. Like I mentioned, I love that she has such a strong faith, one that I wish I had. The hope and positivity in her songwriting makes you want to believe and trust. Not just in religion, but in everything.
I realized while listening to this several times this last week that it's nearly impossible for me to think or talk about Tracy Chapman without touching on her first record. I've been pondering that. I can talk about Springsteen without bringing up Born To Run. I think in the case of Tracy Chapman, her debut struck me as such a perfect record, a complete portrait of an artist I didn't even know yet. It seemed like such a mature work from such a mature artist that I think I had some idea in mind that she couldn't possibly mature beyond it, only live up to it.
She lived up to it album after album. I call them precious because there are damn so few of them. Over the course of eight albums and thirty-some years, though, the lady has, of course, matured. It was immature of me to ever have the notion that she would not. She's held on to every element that made her debut so impressive, but expanded on it, experimented with it, added so many new colors and shades to her palette - and painted some fine pictures with her music and her remarkable, singular voice.
It's hard for me to say one album or another is among her greatest - because they all are great - but, this one could easily be placed among whichever of her records folks love most.
My favorites remain 3000 Miles, America, Change, Before Easter.
Good choice, Steve. A wise one, too, not going for the obvious debut album.
Having a listen before I sit down into write and have to put on my mood music. I did listen to this one as recently as a few months ago. It's a record I'm very familiar with so I don't expect my opinion to change on my favorite tracks (3,000 Miles holds the top slot) or the album overall, but it's nice to have an excuse to put it on again so soon. I can get obsessive about her music for weeks on end whenever I listen to one of her albums.
I will always remember the moment I heard Fast Car for the first time - riding with a stranger in the middle of the night. The song came on the radio and the hair on the back of my neck stood up. Midway through the song, I turned to the driver and said, "That's going to be a huge hit." he said, "I don't know about that, but it's a cool song."
Her debut was one of the rare cassettes not released by Springsteen that found its way into my duffel bag, mere months before I came off the road and settled in the desert.
Like you, her later works are very resonant with me.
My second AC choice was decided early on, especially when I saw we tended to get lots of male voices and harder music in the club.
Tracy Chapman has released 8 albums between 1988 and 2008. Most know her from her debut album, and more specifically the hit single Fast Car. It is a classic song and a great album. But for me, it’s the later albums I really enjoy and listen to the most. When she shed off commercial expectations and made the music that she wanted to make, that spoke to her and made her happy. She hasn’t made an album now in almost 15 years, and I know that when she does, it will be because she has something important to say, and it will be something special.
She is a very spiritual person. Her faith is incredibly important to her, and it comes through in her music often. Never in a preachy way, but in a way that makes me wish I had faith like hers, that I could believe like she does.
I saw Tracy live twice in 1996. I was absolutely smitten with her. She has an inner and outer beauty that radiates from her on a stage, like I have never seen before or since with anyone else. She has the most incredible voice. The second time I saw her, she ended the show, alone on stage, no instruments, no guitar, singing Amazing Grace. I still get goosebumps thinking about that. It was incredible. I recall people shuffling out of the venue, men and women alike, with huge smiles and tears in there eyes. It was a special, beautiful thing.
I’ve chosen Where You Live because it’s one of my favourites. It is a truly beautiful album. It showcases her incredible voice and songwriting, as well as the amazing production of her later albums. Sparse, subtle, with detail you only pick up after repeat listens. It’s a rewarding listen on speakers and headphones alike. The song 3000 Miles still hits me like a ton of bricks. The song America shows that she hasn’t lost her political voice, she just uses it more sparingly.
I love Tracy Chapman and I love this album. If you enjoy it, as I hope you do, you would be well rewarded to seek out her other work.