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