The rising star Khalid, whose music exists at the border between pop and R&B and whose debut album American Teen impressed the hell out of us last year, is 20. That means he’s 10 years younger than “Fast Car,” the tender and thoughtful song that catapulted Tracy Chapman into the popular consciousness. But “Fast Car” is one of those songs that doesn’t age — our own Chris DeVille once wrote a column tracing the song’s path through music history — so maybe it’s not a surprise that Khalid covered it during a recent trip to the BBC Live Lounge.
“Fast Car,” a song about having a job and yet being unable to pull yourself out of poverty, might be more resonant today than it was when Chapman recorded it. Chapman herself was barely older than 20 when “Fast Car” came out, and it’s spindly, iconic guitar line will still sweep you away.
Khalid left that guitar line completely intact during his live-in-studio cover of the song. In fact, he didn’t change the arrangement at all; for the performance, Khalid was accompanied only by an acoustic guitarist. But Khalid and Chapman are very different singers, and Khalid’s warm, sensitive R&B style fits the song beautifully. Watch the performance below.