Popcast’s podcast episode: Covering the rise of Tracy Chapman

Here’s an excellent podcast episode that I highly recommend you listen to, because Jon Caramanica invited Steve Pond to talk about Tracy Chapman and her thunderous debut. If you don’t know Steven, he is the journalist who wrote one of the best articles about Tracy Chapman in 1988. It was published in Rolling Stone magazine in September 1988 and I invite you to read it, On Her Own Terms, before listening to the podcast episode, as it’s heavily mentioned in the interview.

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Description of the episode

Here’s the introductory text of the podcast published on the page hosting the episode:

Tracy Chapman’s ascent to the pop stratosphere in 1988 was not in any way guaranteed. She was making folk music in a time of stadium rock and hip-hop. She was orienting her songs around social concerns. And yet, after a few fortuitous turns in the summer of that year, Chapman’s “Fast Car” became a global anthem. And its success landed her on the cover of Rolling Stone.

For a young Black woman on her first album, it was a startling achievement. The magazine was relatively cloistered in its coverage, but Chapman proved a force to reckon with. The story, written by Steve Pond, is a crucial document — but it is also prophetic, capturing how Chapman was skeptical of the spotlight, and even of the reasons people had embraced her so assiduously.

On this week’s Popcast, a conversation about Chapman’s rapid rise to pop royalty, how her music figured into the broader musical conversation of the late 1980s, and the ways in which she’s changed little over the decades.

Guest: Steve Pond, a longtime music journalist for Rolling Stone and The Los Angeles Times who is now the awards editor of The Wrap

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