Talkin' 'bout a Revolution

"Talkin' 'bout a Revolution" is the second single from singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman's self-titled debut album. The politically aware song peaked at No. 75 in the United States as opposed to its predecessor, "Fast Car" which reached No. 6. It also managed to chart on four other charts maintained by Billboard (which brings out the weekly US chart) and reached the top forty in two of them.[1]

"Talkin' 'bout a Revolution"
Chapman - Revolution.jpg
Single by Tracy Chapman
from the album Tracy Chapman
  • "If Not Now..."
  • "Behind the Wall" (Live)
  • "She's Got Her Ticket"
ReleasedJuly 1988
GenreContemporary folk, folk rock, country folk, country rock
Songwriter(s)Tracy Chapman
Producer(s)David Kershenbaum
Tracy Chapman singles chronology
"Fast Car"
"Talkin' 'bout a Revolution"
"Baby Can I Hold You"

Internationally, this single was a big hit, reaching the Top 40 in several countries, including France and New Zealand, becoming a classic in Chapman's song repertoire.[2] The song received heavy radio play in Tunisia in 2011 during the Tunisian Revolution.[3][4] The song has also been used as an unofficial theme for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign. This song played before speeches at campaign rallies.[5]

The song was first covered by the group Living Colour, who not only performed the song on occasion on various tours but released a live version in the compilation album What's Your Favorite Color (1995). The German punk band, Ausbruch, recorded their cover version of the song on the album, Auf Alte Zeiten (1994). English punk band Leatherface released their cover version of the song on their EP "Compact and Bijou" in 1992. It was subsequently covered by singer Ben Jelen on the Russell Simmons/Babyface-produced all-star compilation Wake Up Everybody in 2004. This song was also covered by Reel Big Fish on their 2005 album We're Not Happy 'Til You're Not Happy and Chamberlain as a B-side to "Five Year Diary". In 2010, this song was translated into Cree and covered by Art Napoleon on his album Creeland Covers. In February 2011, Israeli band Shmemel covered the song and added a verse inspired by the Arab Spring revolutions, with the new song being given the title "Talking About an Arab Revolution".[6]

Clarence Bekker, of Playing for Change, sang a cover version to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 2017.[7]


Chart (1988)[1] Peak
ARIA Top 100 Singles Chart[8] 66
Austrian Singles Chart 29
Canadian RPM Top Singles[9] 42
France Singles Chart 22
Dutch Singles Chart 18
New Zealand Singles Chart 32
Billboard Hot 100 75
Billboard Adult Contemporary 45
Billboard Alternative Songs 24
Billboard Mainstream Rock 22
Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs 78


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[10] Silver 200,000 

  Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ a b Tracy Chapman – Chart history | Billboard
  2. ^ " - Tracy Chapman - Talkin' Bout A Revolution". Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  3. ^ Fisher, Marc (March 26, 2011). "In Tunisia, act of one fruit vendor sparks wave of revolution through Arab world". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  4. ^ Kulsum, Caroline; Al Khatib, Noor (June 25, 2011). "Minstrels of the Arab Revolution". Gulf News. Retrieved March 1, 2017. In 1964, Dylan released The Times Are a-Changin' to support the American civil rights movement. Tracy Chapman sang Talkin' ‘bout a Revolution in 1988, which has also been played repeatedly on Tunisian radio stations in the recent months.
  5. ^ Wagner, John (February 8, 2016). "Songs of 'revolution' and others that make Bernie Sanders's playlist". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  6. ^ Talking About an Arab Revolution on YouTube
  7. ^ Talkin' 'bout a Revolution | Clarence Bekker | Playing For Change on YouTube
  8. ^ Scott, Gavin (August 28, 2013). "25 Years Ago This Week: August 28, 1988". Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  9. ^ Canada TOp Singles peak RPM Magazine
  10. ^ "British single certifications – Tracy Chapman – Talkin' 'Bout a Revolution". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved May 22, 2020.

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