Riding shotgun in a "Fast Car"

I’m not hip enough to watch any music award ceremonies. But I am regularly on twitter and saw post after post from people I think are hip (though that might not be saying very much) praising the duet of Tracy Chapman and county singer Luke Combs. As someone who loved the original song “Fast Car,” - jamming to it on guitar back when I had a lot of hair-I had to listen for myself. Wow was I blown away; the hype was right! In fact you would be hard pressed to find many negative reviews of their performance. But it’s not just the song, it’s the story behind the song, that makes the performance so beautiful.
I’m not sure if you can remember your first favorite song (for me I think it was Every Rose Has its Thorn by Poison), but for Luke it actually was Tracy Chapman’s “Fast car.” Because she owns the rights to “Fast Car,” she became the first black female song writer of a number 1 country hit. In order to do justice to the song, and to its writer, Combs didn’t change a single lyric, even when perhaps, he should have. He leaves this line unchanged: “working as a checkout girl.” Typically, most dudes would have done so.

Combs reference to himself as a check out girl affirmed his serious commitment to honor the original author. Ironically, had Luke tried to make the song “more of his own,” be more true to himself, more relevant, the less attractive it actually would have become.

Luke Combs takes a back seat, or you could say, “rides shotgun” shotgun in this duet, while Chapman drives the show. She opens, and he deferentially follows her lead. The whole duet is a beautiful picture of Jesus and His church. We’re tempted to take the gospel message handed down to us and make it our own instead of see Jesus as our ends. In attempting to give it a relevant twist, we making it less beautiful, distinct, relevant.

Colossians 1:28-29 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.

The temptation is that we would turn this beautiful story of extravagant grace into a moralistic quest of self improvement, or hope that it leads to a better (successful, easier, American prosperous) life. The gospel is a beautiful song with a beautiful backstory. The more we believe it, the more we can humbly share the stage with others and deflect honor their way. The more we find ourselves needing to be front and center, unable or unwilling to celebrate beautiful contributions from those outside our tribe, the less we believe the message we proclaim.

You can see the Fast Car duet here.  

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