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Billy Joel's college piano partner talks about his amazing encounter

13

March

By now, you've probably seen the video of Billy Joel singing New York State of Mind at Vanderbilt University while a student plays piano. The student is Michael Pollack and he's gone on record on what it was like playing with Joel on stage.

"So I decided I was gonna go see Billy Joel right when we found out he was coming, and as a childhood idol of mine, right away I knew what I wanted to do when we went there," Pollack told InsideVandy.com. "My roommate and I decided that we would try and find a way to get a question to be asked, and see if we could get on stage. And the day came, I put together a question, and I was raising my hand, and my friends to the right of me kept pointing to me, and finally after a few questions he picked on me and I hesitantly said how 'New York State of Mind' was my favorite song, and how I had performed it with his saxophonist Richie Cannata in the past and wondered if I could go up and play it with him. And then he thought for a little — he took a second — and then he just said 'Okay.' Which wasn’t quite convincing, but it was good enough.

"I walked up, we spoke about the arrangement for about 15 seconds — he just went through what he wanted me to play — and then from there, it was just … foggy. It’s hard to remember. I just started playing. I had practiced it a little bit thinking maybe I’d get the chance to go up … I kind of lost myself playing.

"Then afterward he said to me … he said that I was great, where are you from … and I said, 'I’m a Long Islander just like you.' He was like, 'Cool.' Then I walked off, and that was it … It was probably the greatest moment of my life, up to date."

[Last modified: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 11:00am]

    

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