Billy Joel, the legendary singer-songwriter got an unexpected question and gave an unexpected answer. The result was something beautiful. Billy Joel was doing a Q&A at Vanderbilt University when he took a question from a kid named Michael Pollack. "My favorite song of yours is New York State of Mind," Pollack started, "I was wondering if I could play it with you."
Billy Joel looked straight ahead, unflinching, not looking surprised, just taking a moment to consider. Then a simple "okay."
Pollack took the stage and sat at a piano (presumbaly Joel had already played a few songs) conversed briefly with Billy, and (as recounted to InsideVandy):
"[F]rom 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."
Pollack's "losing himself" served him well. He nailed the opening, adding just a little of his own artistic flair, played great backup to Joel's vocals, and then ended with a great back and forth at the end, starting around 4:30 of the video:
Billy Joel (singing): 'Cause I'm in a... [Pollack spins off a great high to low riff] I'm in a New Yooooork... [another great riff with just enough flair, a quick cheer from the crowd] "state of" [Pollack, clearly having the time of his life, does a one-handed high blues riff before giving Joel the chords to come back in on, playing with him again on] "miiiiiind."
"Michael Pollack," said Billy Joel afterward. "Remember that name. Kid's got chops."
Yeah, he does. Billy Joel might have found his successor.