'Last Play at Shea' documentary tells stadium's story
The decision for Paul McCartney to play "Let It Be" as the final song at Shea Stadium came from a last-minute conversation backstage with Billy Joel while fans were still screaming after Joel delivered "Piano Man."
That's just one of the many behind-the-scenes revelations from "Last Play at Shea," the documentary chronicling the life of Shea Stadium and Billy Joel's final concerts there in 2008. The film is set to make its world premiere Sunday at the Tribeca Film Festival.
"It was poetic," Joel said of the decision, adding that having McCartney bookend the musical history of the stadium was "the perfect ending" for Shea.
"It was really this thing coming full circle," McCartney added.
Though the 90-minute film, directed by Paul Crowder for Maritime Films, focuses on Joel's historic concerts at Shea and uses his music to tell the stories of the stadium, "Last Play at Shea" is more about the history of the place and its impact on the area and those who called it home. "It's a dump," said Mets outfielder Darryl Strawberry, "but it's our dump."
Using historical footage and animation, the documentary puts Shea into the broader context of the rise of the suburbs and how Long Island, in general, and Joel, specifically, reflected that shift in American life. That backdrop is designed to give lifelong fans of the Mets and Joel a new way of looking at the events that have already been woven into the fabric of their lives.
Joel tries to put his own miraculous climb from The Hassles to playing Shea with his idol McCartney into context, as well. "I'm a kid from Levittown," Joel said. "I don't even look like a rock star . . . I don't believe this is going on."
Sting decided to go solo from The Police while they performed at Shea in '83 because playing there was "Everest."
PHOTOS: Billy Joel at Shea Stadium
PHOTOS: Shea Stadium is gone