The country music community has always had an intrinsic connection to America’s agricultural roots. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that the genre’s artists have acted as music’s first responders in the face of a mounting problem: the steady erosion of local farming communities across the nation. It’s in this spirit that Chipotle tapped Kacey Musgraves to lend her voice to its latest animated short that sheds a light on the plight of family farmers nationwide.
“A Future Begins”The story tells the story about a young farmer, who leaves home to pursue a better life than the mundane job of his office. Its story arc is spun out of headlines–it’s expected that more than 400 million acres of farmland will need new farmers in the coming years, and with the average age of American farmers approaching 60, it’s abundantly clear that an influx of young talent is needed to reignite the nation’s agricultural future. The film is a visual ode to the brand’s support of family farms, an initiative they’ve doubled down on by committing $5 million to young farmers over the next five years in the form of grants, scholarships, and long-term contracts with the restaurant’s suppliers.
For “A Future Begins,” Musgraves recreates Coldplay’s 2005 hit “Fix You,” a sonic bookend that provides a subtle nod to the film’s message of renewal and sustainability. “It’s always such a pleasure and a challenge to reimagine a classic song in your own voice, and I consider ‘Fix You’ to be a classic,” said Musgraves. “Producing the track to fit into the timing and tone of an animated piece was also something new and fun for me. This song, lyrically and melodically, has always hit me right in my heart and serendipitously ended up working perfectly with this story and initiative.”
It’s not the first time the company has done so. Back in 2011, Willie Nelson partnered with Chipotle to reimagine Coldplay’s haunting ballad “The Scientist,” retracing the song’s emotive arc in his own unique way. The TV spot was broadcast in 2011 following Coldplay’s performance at the Grammys. It has also been shown on 10,000 movie screens across the country.
“Back to the Start” took Willie’s version of “The Scientist” to number 1 on Apple Music’s country charts in the days after its release. After the release of the track, Chipotle created the Cultivate Foundation. This nonprofit is dedicated to making real food affordable to all and has donated millions to many organizations. “cultivating a better world through food.”
“I remember being completely stopped in my tracks when I heard Willie’s rendition of “The Scientist,” Musgraves said. “I respect Willie’s voice as a fellow Texan, artist, writer, and humanitarian. So, it’s an honor and a natural fit to carry-on such a big-hearted, music-focused campaign that’s going to bring a ton of help to family farms.”
Musgraves & Nelson share a history that transcends their Texas roots and Nashville sound. The duo toured together in 2014. They have also released many duets that connect generations of country music storytelling. Musgraves is the pioneer of a new type of country, just like Willie was synonymous for the first decades in country music.
Building generational bridges between farmers and music is at the heart of Chipotle’s “A Future Begins.” The cohort of farmers handing over the tractor keys to a younger generation full of new ideas about food mirrors the transition between artists like Willie Nelson and Kacey Musgraves: two country music icons with divergent—but still compatible—takes on their genre. Sometimes going back to the start is about creating new beginnings, whether you’re a Nashville superstar or working on the family farm.