In 1988, the year Tracy Chapman unexpectedly took the world by storm, the presidential matchup was between George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis, but the sentiments expressed in her song “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution” are, if anything, even more poignant today, 32 years later.
Chapman was clearly aware of that context when she performed that song on “Late Night with Seth Meyers” on Monday night, the eve of the most galvanizing election in recent memory. Indeed, she concludes the song by saying “Go vote,” and then stepping aside to reveal a sign reading “Vote” behind her.
“This is the most important election of our lifetime,” Chapman said in a statement. “It is imperative that everyone vote to restore our democracy.”
“I’ve always thought Tracy Chapman’s music skips your ears and goes straight to your heart,” Meyers said. “I’m so honored and excited to have her on the show. She’s living proof you can be a great artist while also speaking out for what you believe in.”
The song’s lyrics read in part:
Don’t you know
You better run,
Oh I said you better run,
‘Cause finally the tables are starting to turn.”
While the socially conscious songs on Chapman’s self-titled 1988 album made her into a superstar, winning three Grammys and performing with artists like Sting and Peter Gabriel on an Amnesty International tour and Nelson Mandela’s 70 th birthday concert, she never seemed completely comfortable with the global spotlight and settled into a calmer career, continuing to perform, release albums and undertake social work in a lower-key manner. Her most recent album, “Our Bright Future,” was released in 2008.