Tracy Chapman (album)

Released April 5, 1988
Recorded 1987-88
Studio Powertrax, Hollywood, California
Genre Contemporary folk
Length 36:11
Label Elektra
Producer David Kershenbaum

Tracy Chapman is the self-titled debut album by singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman, released on April 5, 1988, by Elektra Records. The album was recorded at the Powertrax studio in Hollywood, California. In 1987, Chapman was discovered by fellow Tufts University student Brian Koppelman. He offered to show her work to his father, who owned a successful publishing company; however, she did not consider the offer to be serious. After multiple performances, however, Koppelman found a demo tape of her singing her single “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution”, which he promoted to radio stations, and she was eventually signed to Elektra Records.

In early attempts to produce the first album, many producers turned down Chapman as they did not favor her musical direction. David Kershenbaum, however, decided to produce it as he wanted to record an acoustic music album. It was recorded in Hollywood, California in eight weeks. Most of the writing is based on political and social causes.

Tracy Chapman gained critical acclaim from a wide majority of music critics, praising the simplicity, Chapman’s vocal ability and the lyrical content. They also noticed the political and social lyrical content. The album received commercial success in most of the countries it was released. It made it to the top of the charts in many countries, including Austria, New Zealand, Switzerland, Denmark, and the United Kingdom. It peaked at No. 1 on the US Billboard 200 and was certified six-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), with sales exceeding over six million copies in the United States alone.

Three singles were released from the album, with the most commercially successful single being “Fast Car”. The song was performed at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute. It rose to the top ten on the US Billboard Hot 100 and also did well in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and other European countries.

Track listing

All songs written by Tracy Chapman.

No. Title Length

1. “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution” 2:40
2. “Fast Car” 4:57
3. “Across the Lines” 3:25
4. “Behind the Wall” 1:50
5. “Baby Can I Hold You” 3:14
6. “Mountains o’ Things” 4:39
7. “She’s Got Her Ticket” 3:57
8. “Why?” 2:06
9. “For My Lover” 3:12
10. “If Not Now…” 3:01
11. “For You” 3:10

Total length: 36:11


Tracy Chapman – acoustic guitar, percussion, rhythm guitar, vocals
Ed Black – steel guitar
Paulinho Da Costa – percussion
Denny Fongheiser – percussion, drums
Jack Holder – organ, dulcimer, dobro, piano, electric guitar, Hammond organ, sitar
Steve Kaplan – harmonica, keyboard
Larry Klein – bass guitar
David LaFlamme – electric violin
Bob Marlette – keyboard


Carol Bobolts – art direction
David Kershenbaum – production
Brian Koppelman – executive production
Matt Mahurin – photography
Don Rubin – executive production
Kevin Smith – engineering, mixing

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