You’re supposed to say no. But the problem with excluding all comers is you forgo serendipity, you eliminate magic. Yes is risky, but it can blow your mind. Like it does in this clip of Billy Joel at Vanderbilt.

First you should watch the clip of Billy playing “Miami 2017″ at the MSG Sandy show. Kinda reminds me of that old John Lennon comment, that the rich should just rattle their jewelry. Billy’s got an entire band, he’s firing on all cylinders…and the audience just doesn’t care. They’re self-satisfied, smiling because they’re there. He’s changing the lyrics, making them apropos, but you get no hoot of recognition, no excitement, but Billy soldiers on. He’s playing to millions, but you believe he’d rather be home on the North Shore, watching TV, riding his motorcycle.

But at Vanderbilt…

Billy does these college shows. Where he tells his story. Can’t make as much money as he does in an arena, but it’s much more fulfilling, it’s different. And at this small show, he knocks it so far out of the park you become a fan, even if you weren’t one before.

Billy Joel… Wasn’t he supposed to be a joke?

Don’t pay attention to the press. Hang around long enough and you outlive the critics. Don’t forget Led Zeppelin was panned by “Rolling Stone.” And we can’t even remember who wrote the review.

College kids are not supposed to care, they’re not supposed to know. But listen to them ooh and ahh in this clip. That’s what’s great about being young, the moment is the most important. It’s all about the now. Which is why we revere the youth, they’re untainted by experience, they don’t know what they don’t know, and they can let go.

Like this Michael Pollack. Who has the chutzpah to ask if he can accompany Billy, play with him. Why not, you’re never gonna get the chance again.

And this is not like those YouTube videos where someone gets up on stage and the moment is merely a brush with fame. Pollack can really play. As well as Billy. He didn’t write it, which is the key, but boy can he play it.

But the true magic moment comes when Billy puts on his sunglasses. He’s up to the challenge. He’s gonna perform. He’s gonna blow everybody AWAY!

That’s what performers do. They grab the audience and lift them higher. That’s why you go to the show. To hear songs you know by heart in a slightly different iteration and have the night of your life.

Listen to the roar when Billy dons his shades. This is not Madison Square Garden. The audience is not separated from each other by their income, they’re all in it together.


Billy Joel College Appearance Takes A Pretty Amazing Turn

Hat tip Josh Spector


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Category: Music, Weekend

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3 Responses to “Billy Joel College Q&A Takes A Surprising Turn”

  1. Joe_in_Indiana says:


  2. Mr.Tuxedo says:

    Billy Joel’s voice held up well, although the skeptic in me thinks it may have been staged.
    But if it was, they pullled it off imperceptibly.
    This could give the agents some ideas.
    Bonus for me because this is my favourite song of his.

  3. jnkowens says:

    Goosebumps! As a (former) LI boy – West Islip class of 79 – Billy Joel’s “The Stranger” was one of the seminal albums of my youth, especially because he was kind of our homegrown Bruce Springsteen.
    This post made my week. Thank you!