Over his more than half-century-long recording career, there are few great American songs of any genre that Willie Nelson hasn’t touched (and few American artists that he hasn’t directly collaborated with). So why wouldn’t he collaborate with a restaurant chain, on one of the biggest British rock hits on the last ten years?
Still, it was sort of a surprise to find among the newly available mp3 downloads on Amazon this new Willie Nelson track, a cover of Coldplay’s 2002 single “The Scientist”, accompanied by very un-Willie-Nelson-ish thumbnail art of animated pink pigs in what looks like a pig penitentiary.
A quick search and I found that the track actually serves as the soundtrack for an animated short – oh, whatever, it’s really just a commercial for the Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant chain – called “Back to the Start”, which demonstrates (rather cutely) how industrial agriculture has led us to despair, and how organic farmers (in partnership with Chipotle Mexican Grill!) can lead us to bright colors and wonderfulness again: Think Farmville meets Koyaanisqatsi, only really short, really adorable, insidiously corporate, and no Phillip Glass. It’s all good until the brand messaging starts to kick in. Luckily, Willie Nelson’s performance not only stands well on its own, you can also enjoy it without having to watch Chipotle pander so shamelessly to your Inner Slow Food Locavore. Go download it now.