tv Larry King Live CNN December 1, 2010 12:00am-1:00am EST
because the american people expect us to come here and work on their behalf. >> that's right. work to create more jobs, to f the economy. big stuff, that. now, to be fair, no one really expected them to solve these problems in two hours, but agree to talk about their disagreements? doesn't sound like much. that's why the slurpee summit joins tonight's ridiculous. sum joined tonight's ridiculist. that's "360" for tonight. "larry king live" starts right now. see you tomorrow night. >> larry: tonight -- ♪ people, keep on learning stevie wonder. ♪ music is a world within itself ♪ ♪ with a language we all understand ♪ >> larry: next on "larry king live." ♪ baby, everything is all right ♪ ♪ uptight ♪ out of sight ♪ baby
♪ everything is all right ♪ uptight ♪ plain out of sight >> larry: good evening. stevie wonder needs no introduction. so why am i introducing him? except for this. he is a genius. one of the most influential artists and people of our time. we welcome him back to "larry king live." he is the recipient of 25 grammys and a lifetime grammy. he is a political and social activist. last time he was on this show, by the way, was on the eve of the inauguration of barack obama. we'll start that way, stevie. how do you think he's doing? >> i think president obama's doing very well. i think that obviously we were with a mess, unfortunately, the previous -- at the end of the previous eight years. and i think, you know, it's almost like when you gain a lot of weight, it's going to take a
minute to get it off. so we have some things that we got into, unfortunately, that happened. it's going to take some time to get it back to where it needs to be and to move forward. but i think that he is moving the world forward. i think that reports that are coming out that basically the economy is getting better, that jobs are happening, and i just think we have to stay on point as the united people of america. >> larry: stevie wonder, have you always been an activist, by the way? were you always active in political things? >> i was going to figure we would talk about when i was a little kid, obviously, activist trying to make sure my mother got me what i wanted to get for christmas. cookies -- >> larry: go back to the nap. >> but no, i think i've always had my -- you know, my feelings about different things. and obviously, the whole thing of what's right and what's
wrong. i think that maybe more socialist, you know, just feeling that there's no reason why we can't, you know, work it out as a united people of the united states of america but not just that, of the world. >> larry: let's discuss this extraordinary career. where did you grow up? >> detroit. >> larry: a child of detroit. born blind. >> yes. well, actually, i was not born blind, but shortly after that because of being premature i had then from being in the incubator retrified aplasia, which is a condition -- >> larry: did you see some light? >> i think relindla relindlar retrofibral plasis.
that's what it's called. and it happened from the temperature of the -- having too much oxygen. and many kids that were born in the '50s before the doctor discovered that, you know, there was another way to do it, became blind. >> do you have brothers and sisters? >> i have now five -- or four brothers and one sister. i lost a brother a few years ago. >> larry: they were all sighted? >> yes. >> larry: how did your parents deal -- what did your father do? >> my father really was not the dominant person who raised the family. it was my mother who raised the family. and my mother worked at a fish company working with i guess the -- for a while, and then
fortunately, we were blessed with me being discovered at the age of 9. then signing to motown by the age of 10, and then at 11 having the first record out. >> larry: and that helped the whole family? >> we did make some money. >> larry: you were a prodigy. when did you -- what was -- did you play piano like when you were 5? >> yeah. i played piano. i mean, you know, obviously, sound was very important to me. so when i was able to -- you know, to touch that thing that's called a piano, you know, i was curious about it, and i think the first -- ♪ that's probably the first thing i played. >> larry: "three blind mice." >> exactly. >> larry: appropriately enough. was it -- it had to be tough. i've interviewed george shearing. i'm sure you knew george shearing. >> he was great. great man. >> larry: he said that when
you've never seen he didn't regard it as a handicap because that's the only thing he knew. >> yeah. i mean, it's definitely more difficult for someone who has seen and then lost their sight. because obviously you're used to seeing and you're used to being able to look at something and point right at it or go right to it. even though that's, you know, true, it's not impossible to survive and to live. so -- >> larry: obviously, you've proven it. we're going to trace an extraordinary musical career. we've just started with stevie wonder. we'll talk more about his "innervisions 2." don't go away. >> now, let me say this too. i want to interview you too. i'm a fan of yours. >> larry: we'll let you do that, stevie. but this is your hour. >> stevie wonder! ♪ ♪ watch it, y'all ♪
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♪ ♪ baby, i've got to snow ♪ because if you really, really love me ♪ ♪ you've got to do things that show ♪ >> larry: we're back with stevie wonder. do you remember the first thing you ever wrote? >> there's a song i wrote called "elephandella." >> larry: elephandella. ♪ elephandella, that's the name i keep hearing ♪ ♪ elephandella >> larry: that could be a hit. >> i don't think so. it wasn't then. it's not now. >> larry: what was the first hit? >> the first hit we had was a song called "fingertips." and originally -- >> larry: third album, right?
>> that was in the, yeah, third album, yes. it was a jazz sort of -- the first time it was recorded -- the jazz little stevie. it was a project that motown did with me playing the harmonica and piano and drums and stuff. kind of jazz project. and than we did a tribute to uncle ray, which was a tribute to ray charles that we did. and then we were on the motown revue, and in chicago the -- "fingertips" was done again. we'd come up with a live version of it. clarence paul, who was my musical director at the time, came up with an idea for, you know, the whole "everybody say yeah," and all that stuff. and that was put on the album that was called "little stevie wonder live at the apollo." >> larry: you were always -- you ain't so little anymore. you were once little stevie
wonder, right? >> never little. big in spirit. small in size. grow to kind of match my spirit. >> larry: did the harmonica come naturally to you, too? >> it was -- harmonica was something that obviously growing up in detroit you'd hear the different harmonica players come and playing the blues as they're walking down the streets. when i was off for the christmas holiday season, an uncle gave me a harmonica, chromatic harmonica. and obviously, i didn't know what to got button. i said what is this for? so it's like -- ♪ but then i figured for me playing the harmonica after a while was like the saxophone to me. so it was like -- ♪
♪ larry king >> larry: you take to music, you're called a genius. did that bother you, being called a genius so young? >> the amazing thing about being called a genius is i never paid any attention to it. i appreciated it. but i think since a very early age i felt like this here is a gift from god and i'm only being used as a vehicle through which i can do these things. so you know, the thing about it, at 13 years old, you know, you're a big star and all that kind of stuff. and they're talking about these interviews and these things they're going to do. i'm like okay, fine, but i want to go watch "huckleberry hound." so i was definitely a kid. >> larry: you never stop being a kid. when you write a song, does it -- where does it come from? i mean, you don't see colors. you don't see people. you don't know what a television set looks like.
you feel a piano, but you've never seen a piano. where does the music come from? >> i honestly think that if i were to, you know, see a piano or to see someone or all the other things you mentioned, i -- if ever i were to see thank you i think it would be pretty close to what i imagined it to be. i think i've got a pretty good -- a pretty vivid imagination. and i think that, you know, we really feel before we see. we really hear before we see. because the information, you know, goes into our minds and we have to -- we have to really -- i mean, if we're honest with ourselves, if we're being ourselves, we have to say, okay, this is how i view this. but when you have preconceptions, if your vision gives you preconceptions, then you've got a problem with yourself. >> larry: do you read braille?
>> what's that? >> larry: you don't read braille? >> i'm kidding you. of course i read braille, yes. >> larry: want to play a little under me? we're going to break. play a little under me. anything you wrote. ♪ my guest is stevie wonder. more music when stevie is our guest. we're honoring him tonight for the full hour. don't go away. ♪ [ snoring ] [ light snort ]
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around ♪ ♪ ♪ very superstitious ♪ ♪ come on, let's fall in love >> larry: we're back with stevie wonder. what a career. you toured with the rolling stones back in 1972. i was going to ask, what was that like backstage? what was that like? >> it was interesting. we had a lot of fun. a lot of what i wrote for "talking book," the album that was very successful -- ♪ problem around that time i wrote on that
tour. "superstition" i wrote on a day off while on the tour with the stones. i mean, we had a good time. we really did. >> larry: did you like their music? >> i think we went to the playboy -- was it the -- >> larry: playboy probably. >> playboy mansion. we went to the playboy mansion in chicago. and at that time, stupid me, i took my girlfriend. you know. how much trouble could i really get into? but it was great. i remember once we were performing -- we performed i think at was it -- madison square. and there was a big crowd obviously coming to the show. and the guy said, "listen, nobody can get in but mick jagger. if you're not one of the stones you can't get through here." and so they were saying but it's stevie wonder. "i don't care about stevie who but we want mick jagger. if you're with the stones you
get through." i said well, i am mick jagger. "oh, you are. why didn't you say that?" and they let me through. >> larry: did you like their music? >> yeah, i did. >> larry: you did. okay. when you write a song, where does it like -- "my cherie amour." what i beautiful song. where did that come from? >> that song really -- it was originally called -- ♪ oh, my masha ♪ oh, my marsha >> larry: my marsha? >> yeah. ♪ oh, my marsha ♪ ♪ how i wish that you were mine ♪ >> larry: so why did you change it? >> marsha and i broke up. and so the lyricist -- the lyricist sylvia moore wrote "my cherie amour."
sorry, marsha. >> larry: oh, marsha, you're sorry today, aren't you? when you think -- >> she's probably saying, well, it was about me anyway so, whatever. >> larry: when you think the song out, someone has to write down all the notes, right? >> well, you know, in today's technology you can play on a keyboard like this or any of the other keyboards or piano and through midi, which is the technology that takes, based on numbers, digital, information and take that information and convert that into the -- the writing of each note that you play. the amount of beats. the bars that you play. the song ends. so that's how it happens today. now -- >> larry: the machine can write the note? >> yeah, there's a machine that can write. through the computer and software it can be written out. >> larry: are you always thinking of music? are you always sort of writing in your head?
>> i can't say that i'm always writing in my head, but i do spend a lot of time in my head writing or coming up with ideas. and what i do usually is write the music and melody and then, you know, maybe the basic idea. but when i feel that i don't have a song i just say, "god, please give me another song." and i just am quiet and it happens. it's just amazing. >> larry: like? >> like -- >> larry: play something. ♪ ♪ larry ♪ we're going to miss you ♪ so don't ever go too long ♪ if you're a woman i may have kissed you ♪ ♪ but that will never happen ever ♪
♪ larry ♪ i remember listening to you when you interviewed james brown ♪ ♪ on the radio ♪ i was younger then and you were too ♪ ♪ a few years ago [ applause ] >> larry: someone will record that and he'll dump me and it will be marsha. more music. more stevie after the break. [ male announcer ] one look can turn the everyday into romantic.
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♪ go ♪ one, two ♪ one, two, three, four ♪ >> larry: do you have a favorite song? >> favorite song. you know, i always, when people ask me like what is my most favorite song, i quote duke ellington, when they would ask him what's his most favorite composition, and i say, as i do feel, i haven't written it yet. because you know, there are different songs for different occasions. there's "my cherie amour," of course. there's "as" for a certain day. you know, "i just called to say i love you" for a certain day. happy -- i mean, certain songs. "a vision" for a certain day. so i think the blessing is that i have been able to write songs that have created so many different emotions at different times that i can connect to. >> larry: do you remember where
the -- like "i just called to say i love you." where the inspiration came from? >> i think the idea of the story came from really the -- the spirit of, you know, how love is something that's for all seasons, whether that be a holiday or not a holiday or just being able to express that place anytime. love is always something that can be expressed. and then for years i just had the -- ♪ da, da, da, da ♪ da, da, da, da ♪ da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da ♪ ♪ da, da, da, da ♪ da, da, da, da ♪ da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da ♪
♪ i just called to say i love you ♪ ♪ i just called to say how much i care ♪ >> larry: does the lyric come to you right away too? >> well, the lyric for that came from me having some words already and then putting them together in a way that worked good for the film and equally as important for the song. >> larry: did you know it was going to be a hit? >> i knew it was going to be a hit. i knew that. >> larry: i thought you would know that. because how could that not be a hit? >> no. i just felt good about it all the time. i remember playing it for different times, different birthdays and stuff. but i still only had certain words i would just make up at the time. >> larry: you had other words for that, too? there was a marsha for that? >> no marsha. no marsha. >> larry: have you written a song you thought would be a smash and wasn't? >> oh, we all have that. every single writer has a song that they think is going to be
you know, incredible and then uh-uh. >> larry: what was one that disappointed you? >> i think the -- a song i did "all about the love again." i wrote that a while back and then recently we put it on the album for president barack obama during the campaign. and i remember when i wrote this song, the idea of it was -- the melody was so catching. ♪ da, da, da, da, da ♪ da, da, da, da, da, da ♪ ooh ♪ oh, yeah ♪ it sounds so good to me >> larry: how could that miss? >> i know. what's up? ♪ and da, da, da, da, da ♪ da, da, da, doo, doo, da
♪ ooh, oh yeah, sounds so good to me ♪ >> larry: sounds good to me. stevie wonder, signed, sealed, delivered, he's yours next. [children screaming] [growl] i met my husband here. i got to know my grandkids here. we've discovered so much here together. but my doctor told me that during that time my high cholesterol was contributing to plaque buildup in my arteries. that's why i'm fighting my cholesterol... with crestor. along with diet, crestor does more than help manage cholesterol, when diet and exercise alone aren't enough. crestor is also proven to slow plaque buildup in arteries. crestor is not right for everyone, like people with liver disease, or women who are nursing, pregnant, or may become pregnant. simple blood tests will check for liver problems. tell your doctor about other medicines you are taking,
♪ michael, why didn't you stay >> you know, i loved michael a lot. and i just felt that the way that certain people that, you know, they -- well, here's the deal. i felt that if you're going befriend someone and if, god forbid, they pass away, then why do you come after they die to talk about their business? i was not feeling that at all. >> larry: we're back with stevie wonder. i guess the song that more singer sing, nightclub performances, whatever, my wife sings it, she sings a lot of club songs, is "for once in my life." >> so you need me to write your wife a song? >> larry: yeah, i'd love you to. >> are you serious? >> larry: yeah. >> i'll do that. seriously, i will do it.
and the reason i'll do it is because as much as some of the things i did see when you were doing the whole thing about michael jackson kind of pissed me off a little bit, but i thought the spirit in which you kept it with integrity was great. >> larry: tell me about "for once in my life." where did that come from? ♪ for once i can say this is mine, you can't take it ♪ >> the way that went was, i was in motown in detroit. and i was with my producer, hank cosby at the time, who -- i said, i've got this great idea. because i mean, obviously i heard tony bennett do the song when i was like maybe 12 years old, 13, or whatever it was. 14. and i loved it. what he did with the song. but by about 17, 18, i said, wow, that's such a great song. let me try to do it a different way. i said hank, i've got a great
idea to do this song. he said what song? i said, "for once in my life." so i went to the studio and started going like -- ♪ he said what are you doing, man? what's up? i said listen, just listen. ♪ ♪ for once in my life i have someone who needs me ♪ ♪ someone i needed so long ♪ for once unafraid i can go where life leads me ♪ ♪ and somehow i know i'll be strong ♪ ♪ for once i can touch what my heart used to dream of ♪ ♪ long before i knew ♪ oh, someone warm like you ♪ would make so by the time i get through that i'm hearing this knock on the door. [ knocking ] so ron comes and says what are you doing to my song? i said i'm telling you, ron,
this is going to be a hit. he said no, no, no, this is a song -- i said i'm telling you, this is a good way to do it. he said okay, if i'm wrong, you know, i'll buy you dinner. if i'm right, you buy me a car. no. but anyway, i said, i'm telling you, i feel it. >> larry: well, you put your own stamp on it, though. >> yeah, i just felt that that was the way to do it. it was a song that was really -- i mean, in both ways, obviously. it's a great song. i think part of a great song is that you're able to do various interpretations of that song. >> larry: yeah. >> and so that song done like that, to me it felt like what i could relate to at 17, 18 years old. >> larry: play us to the break. we've got to go to break here. be my tunesmith. >> you'll sing with me? come on, let's go. ♪ for once in my life ♪ i have someone who needs me
♪ and she's gone ♪ 'cause i'll be loving you always ♪ ♪ ♪ you grow up and learn that ♪ ♪ isn't she lovely ♪ they've been spending most of their lives living in a future paradise ♪ ♪ oh, oh ♪ that love's in need of love today ♪ >> larry: we're back with stevie wonder. how did "ebony and ivory" come about? ♪ side by side on my piano keyboard ♪ ♪ oh, lord, why don't we
>> it was a promotions person that worked for motown for some years that reached out to someone that was working with me at the time saying that paul mccartney had a song that he felt would be great for he and i to do together. the person that told us about this song was herb beagle, who worked in motown right when you i was -- first got with motown. and so, you know, we worked it out to, you know, connect and get together. and we met in montserrat and we recorded the song. i felt the sentiment was, you know, something that would be appropriate. >> larry: sure was. >> and i just felt that at the end of the day it really is about, you know, being able to, you know, understand that we may have differences of opinions but at the end of the day we have to -- we have to come together and live and work together.
just as on my piano, why can't we? so it was a great song. >> larry: and at a larry king cardiac gala we sang that song together. >> i remember that. >> larry: but we didn't do -- i didn't do ivory. what did i say? >> you may have been ebony. >> larry: no. that's right. i was ebony and you were ivory. >> yeah. >> larry: let's see if we remember a little bit of it. >> let's see here. ♪ >> larry: i don't remember the first line. ♪ ebony ♪ ebony ♪ and ivory ♪ live together in perfect harmony ♪ ♪ side by side on my piano keyboard ♪ ♪ oh lord, why can't we ♪ side by side on my piano keyboard ♪ ♪ oh, lord, why can't we
♪ ebony and ivory >> larry: how are we going to top that? >> you stopped singing in the middle of it. >> larry: i know. i gave up. >> so when the record comes out, you don't get as much as me. >> larry: okay. how many instruments do you play? >> keyboards, drums, harmonica, percussion instruments. >> larry: anybody you'd like to work with you haven't? >> i mean, i'm a big fan of music. i'm a music lover. so there probably is no one that i wouldn't want to work it. i think it would get down to the chemistry. and if the chemistry was right and if we had both the same feeling about working together and if they could sing or play and they didn't mind being challenged, i'm good. >> larry: will you play "sir duke" to break?
>> i need some tea. hold on. how can we do this? mm. ♪ >> larry: one-handed here. ♪ music is a world within itself ♪ ♪ with a language we all understand ♪ ♪ with an equal opportunity ♪ for all to sing, dance, and clap their hands ♪ ♪ well, just because a record has a groove ♪ ♪ don't make it in the groove ♪ you can tell by the way it let's the a when the b boys start to move ♪ ♪ they can feel it all over ♪ they can feel it all over, people ♪ ♪ they can feel it all over ♪ they can feel it all over people ♪
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♪ part-time lover >> larry: all right. the crew was talking before we began this interview, and they all said they love a song which is not familiar to me because i've got some musical knowledge but i don't know everything. and the song is called "part-time lover." what's your take on that? how did that come about? >> how did i write the song or -- >> larry: yeah. >> i wrote the song -- >> larry: not marsha again. >> no. this would have involved a few, couple of people. but this song i wrote when i was in england. and i don't know. it was just an idea, just the whole thing. it was -- the beat then was -- ♪ and so it was like -- ♪ call up ring once hang up the phone ♪ ♪ to let me know let me start again. do it again. [ clearing throat ] ♪ call up, ring once, hang up
the phone ♪ ♪ to let me know you made it home ♪ ♪ don't want nothing to be wrong with part-time lover ♪ ♪ if she's with me, i'll blink the lights ♪ ♪ to let you know tonight's the night ♪ ♪ for me and you, my part-time lover ♪ ♪ ♪ chasing love underneath the sun ♪ ♪ we are strangers by day, lovers by night ♪ ♪ knowing it's so wrong ♪ but feeling so right ♪ ooh ♪ da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da ♪ you know, it would go on. >> larry: do you still do a lot of concerts? >> yes, we do. i mean, we've just recently did the tour throughout europe. we've had different concepts. the next tour i'm going to do is
going to be called "through the eyes of wonder." and the concept of that tour is going to be really taking the ideas that i see, you know, the visuals, how i've -- how i've done the various songs and how i visualize various things could be with something that would be a visual in them, whether it be a video, whether it be staging them a certain kind of way. because i think that, you know, obviously with every song that i have written i have sort of a vivid imagination or picture as to how i view and how i see as well as the world itself. >> larry: through the eyes of wonder. what a great idea. do you ever get -- how old are you now, stevie? >> 60. >> larry: do you ever think of hanging it up? >> hanging what up? >> larry: hang up the career. just retiring. >> obviously, there will be some point when i'll decide, okay,
i've got a daughter that sings, a son that sings, i've got family that, you know, are talented. my little children are very talented. and so i think, you know, at some point, you know, life will give itself to them and by then, whenever that might be, i'll just not do it. i'll maybe just write songs or whatever. but i love performing. >> larry: we'll be back with our remaining moments with the great stevie wonder. don't go away. ♪
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♪ come true when i looked at you ♪ ♪ and maybe too if you would believe ♪ ♪ you too might be ♪ overjoyed ♪ over love ♪ over me >> larry: so we're with our remaining moments with the great stevie wonder. i -- boy. it's so unbelievable to have had -- to be able to sit with people like you and to experience you firsthand for a little kid from brooklyn. >> how -- if i could ask a question. how have you enjoyed -- you've met so many different personalities, obviously, political -- >> larry: i've enjoyed every minute of it. >> really? >> larry: yeah. 50 years went by like yesterday. i remember the first day i started. but this is about you. so i'm going to -- artie shaw. the great artie shaw, he stopped playing at age 53. and i asked him why.
and he said he had nothing more to say. do you ever feel that way? >> for as long as there's life, for as long as we have things happening in the world, for as long as people haven't been able to work it out, for as long as people are not trying to work it out, for as long as there's crime and destruction, hate, bigotry, for as long as there is a spirit that does not have love in it, i will always have something to say. >> larry: do you ever sing what ray charles used to sing? do you ever sing "america"? >> i haven't sang the song. i like the song. >> larry: you ought to sing "america the beautiful." >> okay. i -- i think it's a very, very pretty song. and i -- you know, certain songs you hear people sing and you say you know what? i'm not even going to think about touching that because -- >> larry: it's ray's. >> -- in the case of ray he did
such an incredible job with it. the national anthem that whitney houston did, incredible. and so there are various pieces that obviously in time i will do. but i think that i have an appreciation for the talents of those people that have done them incredibly. there was a song i wrote called "till you come back to me." and my version was very sort of pop-oriented a little bit, and aretha did it, aretha franklin did it, and it was like forget about it. >> larry: play a little of it. we're closing out. >> it's like -- >> larry: stevie wonder's been our guest. "ac 360's" going to follow. the latest news on cnn. play us out, cnn. ♪ you don't call anymore ♪ i sit and wait in vain ♪ i love to rap on your door ♪ tap on your window pane
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