The song begins with the woman wanting to flee her sad surroundings and start a new life with her lover:
Starting from zero got nothing to lose
Maybe we'll make something
But me myself I got nothing to prove"
We learn that the girl's mother left the family because of her alcoholic father but that she decided to drop out of school and take care of him. She expresses hopes and dreams of finding a new life:
And your arm felt nice wrapped 'round my shoulder
And I had a feeling that I belonged
And I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone"
But that doesn't happen as she finds work at a grocery store, he doesn't have a job, and they end up living in a shelter. And then we discover that she's back in the situation her mother experienced with her dad:
See more of your friends than you do of your kids
I'd always hoped for better
Thought maybe together you and me would find it
I got no plans I ain't going nowhere"
And in the end she says:
But is it fast enough so you can fly away
You gotta make a decision
You leave tonight or live and die this way"
Chapman followed "Fast Car" with other noteworthy songs such as "Talkin 'bout a Revolution," "Baby Can I Hold You," and "Give Me One Reason."
"Fast Car" lyrics