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.
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."