Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Last Play At Shea: Billy Joel's Candid Interview with Howard Stern

'THE LAST PLAY AT SHEA' Theatrical Trailer from D&E Entertainment on Vimeo.

Howard Stern has once again proved to be the best interviewer in media.  He engaged Billy Joel in a phone interview today that was revealing, passionate and funny.  Joel was on to promote the one night (October 21st)  in theaters only showing of Last Play At Shea, which is a documentary he financed about not only his last concert at Shea Stadium, but also takes a look at the history of Shea.  As Darryl Strawberry says so eloquently in the trailer, "Yeah it was a dump, but it was our dump."

It in his interview Billy said Shea Stadium is basically the point where Long Island meets New York City. He grew up a Dodger fan and moved over to the Yankees when the Dodgers abandoned NY.  When The Mets appeared on the scene, he was happy to have National League baseball back.  He's a New York baseball fan. 

When Billy saw the Beatles, he decided he wanted to be a musician.  He even wore a Wells Fargo badge during his performances as Shea, just as the Beatles had done in the 60's.  He said The Beatles were driven in a Well Fargo truck to Shea and the driver gave them the badges which they wore.  Billy describes driving to Shea for the last performance and gets a call from Paul McCartney saying "I'm not sure my flight will land on time to make it to the show."  Billy explained that air traffic control gave Paul's flight clearance to land before others, so Paul could make it to Shea for the show.  The thrill must have been unbelievable for Joel.  It all came full circle. 

It seems that every detail has been covered in this documentary.  Pete Flynn deservedly gets his due.  If you're a Mets fan, I don't have to tell you who he is.

On the non-baseball side, Billy talked about his father who was from Germany and left the family when he was 8.  His father's family lost a profitable business to the Nazis. His dad was a frustrated musician, although Billy said he loved hearing his father play the piano.  He has a half brother who is a musical conductor. 

Howard asked him about his favorite song from his catalog.   He named a few including  Lullabye,  New York State of Mind and Summer Highland Falls, which is probably my favorite Billy Joel song.   Surprising, Billy said his favorite albums are the later ones, from Glass Houses on.  Was his mother mad that he decided to be a musician and skip school?  He said she just wanted him to be fulfilled and happy.  Here is the money point:  Billy said, "I had the fire" which is probably why he was so successful after many pitfalls, including having the Cold Spring Harbor album incorrectly mastered. The whole album was sped up, making him sound like a chipmunk.  Of course no interview of Howard's would be complete without asking about groupies.  Joel said they didn't have those kind of groupies.  The Billy Joel groupies wanted to be the band's friends. 

"Don't take shit from anyone." Howard said the last line he utters to the audience must have been calculated.  Billy was happy that the bullying issue is being addressed. He hates bullies.  To counter the bullies that would torment him on his way to piano lessons, he took up boxing.  His distaste of bullies probably led to him closing the show with that line. 

Howard mentioned he only has 29 shows left on Sirius (I guess the talks to keep him there have ceased) and he wants Billy to come back.   They'll bring in a piano and he'll talk about his songwriting (he writes the music first and the lyrics come later).  I agree with Howard, I could have listened to Billy talk all day. Can't wait for him to return to the show. 

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