Editor’s note: This article was originally published March 4, 2014
On Monday we posted about a preview of a track from the upcoming "Veronica Mars" soundtrack in which Austin bandleader Alejandro Escovedo sings the Dandy Warhols-penned theme song to the TV series that inspired the film. It turns out there’s more to the story: "Alejandro gets quality screen time — he’s not just on the soundtrack, he’s also in the movie," says "Veronica Mars" director Rob Thomas.
"When I was writing the script, I wanted a busker to be doing ‘We Used to Be Friends,’" Thomas explained by phone on Monday, en route to a current project in Vancouver before he returns to Austin for Saturday’s SXSW premiere of the film. "Veronica is standing on a New York City street — actually an L.A. city street that’s faking a New York City street — and he [Escovedo] is about 10 or 15 feet away from her, playing the song."
The scene occurs within the first few minutes of the film. The original Dandy Warhols song became one of the most recognizable stamps of the TV series, and that version plays over the movie’s end credits. "But I wanted a hint of it in the beginning of the movie," Thomas says. "So I started thinking about the artists I’m a fan of that are troubadours. And I thought, that’s a guy I could see playing on the street with a guitar case in front of him."
Escovedo isn’t the only Austin act whose music is included in the film, though he’s the only one who made it onto the CD soundtrack that comes out next week. Also getting play in the film is "Unafraid" by Escovedo’s True Believers bandmate Jon Dee Graham, along with selections from fellow mid-’80s veteran Austin band the Reivers and power-pop outfit the Rite Flyers.
Thomas was known for using Austin acts in the series when it aired from 2004-07. "One of my favorite uses of music ever in the show was when I used a long section of [Escovedo’s] ‘Gravity/Falling Down Again,’" Thomas noted. "It played over the last three minutes of one of our episodes."
He also used Graham’s song "The Change," partly as a way to contribute to fundraising efforts for Graham’s son William in 2005 when William needed surgery for a childhood disease. "I started searching through Jon Dee’s catalog and I fell in love with that song," Thomas said. "It’s been on about a dozen of my mix CDs; it’s one of my favorite songs."