There’s a certain country cool to “Back Where I Come From.” And it seemed a perfect song for Kenny Chesney to perform at the 20th anniversary of Farm Aid.
First, the back story.
Chesney included “Where I Come From” as part of his “Me and You” album in 1996. That was back when the country world started taking notice of Chesney. Because of that album, Chesney earned the 1997 new male vocalist award from the Academy of Country Music. The album was his first ever to be certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.
Although Chesney never released “Where I Come From” as a single, it became a staple at his concerts. So why not sing it at Farm Aid, one of the biggest annual concerts in the country?
Before Kenny Chesney Sang the Cover, Mac McAnally Reached No. 14 With It
Mac McAnally wrote the song and released it in January 1990. It was a valentine to Belmont, Miss., where he grew up. The song screamed Americana. It reached No. 14 on the country charts. And it turned out to be McAnally’s second-biggest song.
His biggest was “Down the Road.” But that was only after Chesney released it in 2008. Chesney had McAnally as a guest vocalist on the song. It did reach No. 1.
“When I wrote ‘Back Where I Come From’ I thought that it was a hit,” McAnally once told American Songwriter. “But also that it said something that I personally wanted to be the first to say.”
So why is the song perfect for Farm Aid?
Farm Aid is an annual concert featuring some of pop and country music’s biggest acts. It’s basically where the two genres intersect. Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young created Farm Aid. Dave Matthews joined them later. The aim is to raise money for family farmers, those folks who tend the land for generations.
The first Farm Aid concert happened in Champaign, Ill in 1985. The 20th anniversary moved closer to Chicago, in the suburb, Tinley Park. Former president Barack Obama, then a U.S. Senator from Illinois, was listed as a performer. He actually introduced the group Wilco.