Billy Joel Shocks Lifelong Fan with Heartfelt Duet (Video)

Owen Poindexter
Michael Pollack, a lifelong Billy Joel fan, got the chance to ask his hero an unexpected question. Joel gave an unexpected answer, and what happened after that was magic.

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.