Billy Joel made one student's dream come true during his event “Billy Joel: An Evening of Questions and Answers and a Little Bit of Music” at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., on Jan. 30.
Freshman Michael Pollack bravely asked if he could accompany the "Piano Man" hitmaker on his favourite tune, highlighting that he had previously preformed with Joel’s saxophone player, Richie Cannata.
"My favourite song of yours is 'New York State of Mind,'" he said. "I was very fortunate to play with Richie Cannata many times in New York City and I was wondering if I could play it with you.”
The 63-year-old music legend encouraged Pollack to come up to the stage and, once they began to perform together, seemed blown away by the level of talent he witnessed when the freshman began to play.
At the end of the song, Joel complimented Pollack, saying, “Nice going, Michael. Guy's got chops!"
He added: “Take a chance. I love when that happens. That’s nice. Good luck to you, Michael. I think you’ll do fine.”
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“It’s hard to remember,” Pollack told the Vanderbilt University newspaper of his experience performing with Joel. “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.”
At press time, Pollack’s clip of the event has grossed almost 104,000 views and has generated a legion of new fans for the pianist.
“Great job,” one viewer commented. “Billy is a perfectionist and said you've got chops. That's a pretty awesome compliment.”
Wrote another: “This is epic, stunning performance.”
Check out Pollack performing “New York State of Mind” at the age of 14 below and head here to hear more of his music. Doesn't he make you want to learn how to play the piano?