Narrative Perspective: Fast Car by Tracy Chapman

Alalysis #1- Fast Car- Tracy ChapmanPosted: 1st February 2011 by t3david in Narrative 0Analysis #1 Narrative Perspective difinetly Artefact: Fast Car Tracey Chapman 1988 I chose to analyse this artefact from a narrative perspective because it the song clearly describes all the elements of a narrative- the setting, characters, and events. Finally in order for this song to be a narrative there must be a moral which I will try to decipher while analysing the artefact. I also choose this artefact because it discusses some almost “taboo” topic, so I felt was relevant to pop culture.
The exact location of where the events take place is unclear. We can assume through the description of the song that it is likely that the events are taking place with a lower/middle class family living in a small neighbourhood. We can infer this because of the need for the narrator to want to drive away from where she is because there isn’t much opportunity in this small town. The main character is also the narrator and she tells the story of what she is thinking as life passes her by. The main character also talks about other people in her life.
One particular person is the person she seems to be singing to. She often refers to “you” when she talks about leaving the town. She also uses words like “we” and “us” to show that whoever she is singing to is with her and that she is not alone. Later on we learn about her family who act as secondary characters. We come to know about her father and the sacrifices she has made for him even though he may not be the best father (“I quit school”). We also hear about her mother who walked out on her and her father. The major events are all the struggles that the main character had to go through.

The narrator tells us about her family situation when she was younger; how her mother left the family, how her dad turned to alcohol, and how she had to pull the weight of her family by dropping out of school and working. She then talks about her life now and how it’s a similar situation in the sense that she has to sacrifice her needs in order to provide for her own family. She talks about her partner sees “more of your friends then you do your kids” and how she had to take up a job as checkout girl (which was probably something that she didn’t plan).
These events are active because actions are actually being carried out. Throughout the narrative, the main character talks about driving away in a “fast car” which symbolizes her need to get away from all her problems and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. This event has temporal relations and to be more specific it has relations that are paradigmatic because we learn about events and attitudes that happened in the past before learning about the current state of the main character.
For example we learn about her wish of driving away even before we hear about her difficult past. I found that it was a little hard to decode. One moral that is conveyed throughout the song is as much as your try to run away( or drive away) from your problems sometimes they just ending up following you, even if you feel as if you are a good person who doesn’t deserve such problems. However I found that the implications of the artefact can come across positively as well.
In the scenario if the implication being positive we can maybe conclude that after hearing the song people who experienced a similar situation in the past or people who are experiencing similar situations currently would be able to connect to the song more, and relate to the events and feelings that is being conveyed by the narrator. Even though the moral of the song may be bleak, people may feel secure that there are other people in world going through some of the same things they may be.
However again, we can also look at the other perspective. When impressionable audiences listen to this song, and find that the narrator doesn’t have a happy ending it could just make people feel more hopeless. It’s important to note that even though the material of the story is a bit depressing, for example the discussion of single parenthood and alcoholism, there is still an inspirational quality to the song. We can see the inspirational quality of the song because the main character is always referring to wanting to drive away and be carefree.
The reference to the main character wanting to drive away is especially effecting because it is the ending of the song. By putting this at the end it really cements the idea of the main character still striving for more in her life; she hasn’t given up. In terms of looking at this artefact and how it relates to pop culture as a whole we can draw a few conclusions. It’s firstly important to note that this song came out in 1988. Unlike today in 1988 alcoholism and single parenthood wasn’t publicized as much.
Today, however, images of alcoholism and single parenthood are becoming a common occurrence in all forms of media. So for Tracey Chapman to include material like that in her song was a risk. Another thing that I found related to pop culture, and especially her audience, which was mostly young people, was that Overall I find that the song is effective in conveying its message of always hoping for greater things. As well to enjoy the simple things even if times have been hard.
With its clever use of characters, setting, and well organized events that advance the plot the final moral of the song was properly conveyed. Sources Sellnow, Deanna D. The rhetorical power of popular culture: considering mediated texts. Los Angeles: Sage, 2010. Print “Tracy Chapman- Fast Car” Web. 1 Feb 2011 http://www. lyrics007. com/Tracy%20Chapman%20Lyrics/Fast%20Car%20Lyrics. html. “Tracy Chapman-Fast Car Video. ” Web. 1 Feb 2011. http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=dl6yilkU1L1. Griffen, Dr. Chris. “Narrative Alalysis,” N. P. , n. d. Web. 1 Feb 2011. http://stadd. bath. ac. uk/psscg/Q-Nar-lec. htm.

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