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” tells the story of a young farmer who grows up and makes tracks for the big city, only to realize that the life he left behind was far more rewarding than his daily office hustle. 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 2011 TV spot aired following a Coldplay performance at the Grammys that year before being broadcast on 10,000 movie screens around 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. And following the debut of the track, Chipotle launched the Cultivate Foundation, a nonprofit that is committed to making real food accessible for all, and has contributed millions to 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 and Nelson have a shared history that goes beyond their Texas roots and Nashville sounds: The duo toured together in 2014 and have released several duets that bridge generations of country music storytelling. And just as Willie was synonymous with the first decades of country music, Musgraves has become the vanguard of a new kind of country that has brought a modern sound to a classic genre.
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.