Tracy chapman is considered as one of the most socially relevant songwriters of our time, and has become one of our generation’s most unique voices. Despite some negative feedbacks on her albums, mainly the latest one “New Beginning”, Tracy chapman only reaffirms her talents as a writer and not just a vocalist in each new album. Throughout her rock career, chapman has addressed such social important issues as human rights, racial equality, and economic justice.
Some might say that such themes are not new and are mentioned in many other songs, but the way Tracy chapman expresses her own attitude to these things is really unique and touches the hearts of fans. Tracy chapman was born March 20, 1964 in cleveland, ohio. Together with her older sister, Tracy was raised alone by their mother in a “lower-middle class” neighborhood. Since her mother had to work hard in order to earn enough money for living, both girls spent much time alone, not having much in common with the kids in their neighborhood.
During these years the little girl Tracy wrote poetry and short stories, learnt to play the ukulele, the piano, and the guitar. Finally, she started writing her own songs which helped her to express her thoughts, emotions and feelings that she cannot uncover to her mother or sister. Later Tracy decided to create her further life in a different way than she was grown up. as a result, she finished a private school in connecticut and later received a scholarship to study in Tufts University in Boston.
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Due to one of her classmates at Tufts Tracy chapman get signed to elektra Records which released her debut in 1988 with the fit Fast car (Tracy Thompson, p. 31). It was only the beginning of a successful career of Tracy chapman and introduced her to a legion of fans. Her latest album “New Beginning” combines both familiar themes with a few more eclectic musical influences. Tracy chapman tries to stay more or less true to her original sound in every song of this album. Her guitar becomes part of her voice and the music blends smooth.
This album is so different from her previous ones that one cannot help becoming a little addicted to this new sound and voice of chapman as a whole. It is the folk music cD that tings rock, soul and blues which is rather common for Tracy chapman. However, this time singer added some new sonic elements like the bagpipes and digerdoo (Bud yeager, p. 23). every song in the album “New Beginning” is important in its meaning and message to the fans, however, several songs are worthy of special attention. among them is the song “The Rape of the World”.
It tells about the destruction of our planet in the ways that might be avoided by the humanity. chapman points out that the earth is “mother of us all, place of our birth” which has been “poisoned and beaten up” for long period of time. People, who are witnesses of such “great violation of all time”, stand aside and do nothing to prevent such horrible crime. Tracy chapman has addressed the theme of environment and earth pollution in her previous songs as well, but it seems that album “New Beginning” gives her a new hope for better future.
That is why, in every song she inspires people to look around and “stop the rape of the world”; otherwise, it will be “the beginning of the end” (ali Sinclair, p. 9). In the song “The Rape of the World” as well as other songs from album “New Beginning” Tracy chapman takes a simple musical approach in order to focus attention on her own voice. as usual, lyrics combine emotional portraits and political generalizations which show chapman’s feelings and politics even more deeply (George Graham, p. 10).
as entertainment Weekly wrote in 1995, “her resonant voice imbues these low-key songs with warmth that seduces you…” (12/1/95, p. 74) While other songs in the album talk more about love and romance, song “The Rape of the World” is a beautiful yet mournful ballad about social injustice. Singer emphasizes that if earth is “mother of us all”, then it is “the deadliest of sins” because it gives birth to all the living beings and gives them food and shelter. earth is associated with a queen tat has glory and power.
However, in reality situation is totally different since people use natural resources unwisely, destroy forests and lakes, thus cause air and water pollution. chapman cannot be indifferent to this situation and such attitude of humanity to the planet. People used to environmental campaigns, thus, might lose interest to their true meaning. Tracy chapman hopes that if words from her songs touch at least one person, all these attempts are not in vain. Sometimes, a word can touch the mind and heart of a person in better way than any environmental campaign or advertisement in the newspaper or magazine.
Thus, she calls others to see all this destruction with their own eyes and hear the cries of the earth. Though, the global change in the environment should start from a little change within every individual. Tracy chapman used the word “rape” on purpose. If she mentioned words like “ruin”, “destruction” and others, it might not influence people so much as with the word “rape”. The word has a deep meaning, that is, earth is helpless toward human’s cruel actions and loses its power and possibilities as the negative and harmful influence of humanity increases.
During many years and even centuries earth has been “clear-cut, dumped on, poisoned and beaten up”, while population was indifferent, blind and mute witness of this great violation. Some people can talk about environmental issues and earth protection, but do nothing to prevent the destruction. others not only talk, but also make appropriate actions to help the planet. Words and messages from chapman’s songs might be summarized in one single – “New Beginning” where singer emphasizes that “it’s time to start all over make a new beginning”.
While it still carries the same strong message, it also expresses the message more subtlety: “We can break the cycle, we can start all over…” Despite sad message of the song, its lyrics provide people with the hope that it is not too late to stop the destruction and save our planet from total crisis. The song shames listeners into environmental responsibility which is the basic of every individual in their everyday life. While listening to the song “The Rape of the World”, there is no doubt that anyone can stay indifferent to these words, especially when chapman points out that humanity is “witness” to this rape.
It means that we are both cruel destroyer and helpless witness. We ruin our own base – the earth we live in. If we continue such harmful actions, what will happen with the planet in several years? Will we then be able to breathe fresh air, to walk to the forests and park, to use natural resources that we need so much in our life? In such a way, words of Tracy chapman are addressed to every person on the planet with the hope for crucial changes in order to save the planet from total destruction. Since nowadays the question of environmental protection is vital, songs of Tracy chapman are more than important.
They are not addressed only to american nation, but to the whole world as well because if all nations unite in earth protection, we still have a chance to save our “home and place of birth”. Greenpeace and other environmental organizations are very popular today, especially among youth. Their main message is that young people are those responsible for changes in today’s world. as the proof of her own care for earth protection, Tracy chapman participated in some of rock’s most legendary live events, including amnesty International’s Human Rights Tour, London’s Freedomfest honoring Nelson Mandela, and the Bob Dylan 30th anniversary concert.
Her contribution into music and environmental spheres is very important since due to her songs Tracy chapman is urging for environmental activism in these apathetic times. Works cited: chapman, Tracy. New Beginning: The Rape of the World. elektra, cD 61850-2, 1995 Graham, George. “The Graham Weekly album Review #1007 Tracy chapman: New Beginning”. elektra Records: 11/8/95 Sinclair, ali. “New Beginning. ” Music Review 1996 Thompson, Tracy. “This Legend Voice. ” entertainment Weekly 1995 yeager, Bud. “New Beginning of Tracy chapman. ” Los angeles Times 25 Mar. 1995
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