When lifelong Billy Joel fan Michael Pollack stood up to ask his childhood idol a question during the Piano Man's recent Q&A at Vanderbilt University, he had no idea the answer would stay with him for the rest of his life.
Pollack, a piano player himself, asked Joel if he could accompany him in a performance of "New York State of Mind" — Pollack's favorite song.
"[H]e thought for a little - he took a second - and then he just said 'Okay,'" Pollack would later tell the Vanderbilt Hustler.
That was "good enough" for Pollack, who took off toward the stage to prepare for whatever came next. After just a 15 second exchange with Joel, Pollack began to play.
He recounted — or tried to recount — the next few minutes 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.
Joel's advice to attendees to remember Pollack's name won't likely be much of a task: The young musician recently signed with the performing rights organization BMI and has already started working with them on some songs.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to BMI as a "label."