A Billy Joel encounter turned into a popular YouTube moment for Vanderbilt University student Michael Pollack, and now the unlikely concert partner is talking about what it was like to play with his idol.
For anyone who hasn’t seen the video, Joel calls on Pollack during a question and answer session at a concert in an auditorium. Pollack explains that he admires Billy Joel and wants to accompany the singer on stage. Amazingly, Joel agreed.
After a bit of preparation and what seems to be trepidation from Billy Joel, the two launched into a perfect version of “New York State of Mind,” with Joel singing and Pollack playing piano.
Now, Pollack is opening up about his Billy Joel encounter, saying it was a dream to play with his boyhood idol.
Playing a song with Billy Joel wasn’t exactly the impromptu moment it appeared on video, though.
“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,” Pollack told InsideVandy.com. “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.”
Pollack noted that Billy Joel’s response, a tepid “Okay,” didn’t exactly inspire a lot of confidence. But after talking about the arrangement for a few seconds, Pollack nailed his Billy Joel encounter and earned his YouTube moment of fame.
After his big moment in front of the crowd, Pollack said the meeting with his boyhood idol had kind of a ho-hum ending.
“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.,’ ” Pollack said of his Billy Joel encounter. “He was like, ‘Cool.’ Then I walked off, and that was it … It was probably the greatest moment of my life, up to date.”