Arrow executive producer and diehard Joel fan Marc Guggenheim wrote a letter requesting permission to feature both Joel and his music in the episode, Entertainment Weekly reports.
The episode focuses on villain Cayden James’ (played by Lost‘s Michael Emerson) plan to blow up a concert venue within DC Comics’ “Arrow-verse.”
“For the Thanksgiving episode of Arrow, we wanted Cayden James to threaten a major event at Star City,” Guggenheim told EW. “A variety of ideas were discussed, but when we settled on a rock concert, I knew it had to be Billy Joel.”
Both Guggenheim and Joel are natives of Long Island, New York, where the concert footage from the episode was shot. The producer elected to use live footage of Joel’s River of Dreams track “No Man’s Land.” In recent years, Joel has performed that track twice at Long Island shows: First at the final Nassau Coliseum show in August 2015 – the track’s first live appearance since 1995 – and then again at the Nassau Coliseum reopening concert in April 2017.
Keeping with the DC Comics theme, as Comicbook.com notes, “No Man’s Land” is also the title of a major Batman arc.
“He’s always been an inspiration to me, personally and artistically,” Guggenheim added of Joel. “I told him as much when I wrote to him to ask for his permission to use his concert footage in our episode and when he agreed, it was one of the happiest days of my career.”