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tv   Larry King Live  CNN  December 1, 2010 3:00am-4:00am EST

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expect us to come here and work on their behalf. >> that's right. work to create more jobs, to fix 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. that's it for "360." thanks for watching. larry king starts now. see you tomorrow night. tonight -- >> larry: stevie wonder. next on "larry king live." ♪
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>> larry: good evening. stevie wonder needs no introduction. except for this, he's a genius, one of the most influential artists and people of our time. we welcome him back to "larry king live." he's the recipient of 25 grammy's and a lifetime grammy. he's a political and social activist. last time he was on this show, by the way, he was on the eve of the inauguration of barack obama. how do you think he's doing? >> i think president obama is doing well. we were in a mess from the previous -- at the end of the previous year and i think it's almost like you gain a lot of weight, it takes more than a
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minute to get it off. so we've got some things that we got into, unfortunately, that happened. and it's going to take it 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 the reports that are coming out that basically the economy is getting better, jobs that are happening, and i think that we have top stay on point. >> larry: stevie wonder, have you always been an activist, by the way? have you always acted in political things? >> when i was a little kid, obviously, i was an activist trying to make sure my mother got me -- >> active in that. >> i think i've had my feelings about different things and the whole thing about what is right and what is wrong, i think that
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maybe more a socialist, you know, just feeling that there is no reason why we can't, you know, work it out, the united states of america but not just that but of the world. >> larry: all right. let's discuss your extraordinary career. where did you grow up? >> detroit. >> larry: a child of detroit born blind? >> yes. actually, i was not born blind but shortly after that because of being premature i had then -- it is a condition -- >> do you see some light? >> i may have. i think the -- that's what it's called. and it happens from -- or it happened, any way, from the
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temperature of the -- having too much oxygen and many kids that were born in the '50s, before the doctor discovered that there was another way to do it i became blind. >> do you have brothers and sisters? >> i lost a brother a few years ago. >> larry: they were all sighted? >> yes. >> larry: how did your parents -- what did your father do? >> my father was the dominant person that -- raised the family was my mother, who who raised the family. and my mother worked at a company working with -- for a while and then fortunately we were blessed with me being
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discovered at the age of 9, then signing to motown to the age of 10 and then at 11 had the first record out. >> larry: and that helped the whole family? >> we did make some money. >> larry: you were a progidy. did you play piano when you were like 5? >> yeah, i played piano. obviously, sound was very important to me. so when i was able to, you know, touch that thing, what is called a piano, i was curious about it and i think the first -- that was probably the first thing that i played. >> larry: three blind mice, appropriately enough. it had to be tough. i've interviewed george schering. >> he was great. >> larry: he said that when you have never seen, he didn't
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regard it as a handicap. because that's the only thing that he knew. >> yeah. i mean, it's definitely more difficult for someone who has seen and then lost their sight because, obviously, you are used to seeing. you are used to being able to look at something and then rather than go right to it, even though that's true, it's not impossible to survive and to live. and so -- >> larry: obviously you've proven it. we're going to trace an extraordinary musical career. we'll talk more about his inner visions, too. >> i want to interview you, too. i'm a fan of you, too. >> larry:. all right. we'll let you do that but this is your hour. ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪
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>> larry: we're back with stevie wonder. do you remember the first thing you ever wrote? >> there's a song i wrote called elephant della.
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>> larry: elephant della. ♪ elephant della that's the name i keep hearing ♪ it wasn't then and it's not now. >> 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 third album, yes. the first time it was recorded -- it was a project that motown did with me playing the harmonica and piano and drums and stuff. so kind of jazzed. and than we did a tribute to uncle ray, to ray charles. and then we were on the motown menu and in chicago the fingertips was done again.
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we came up with a live version of it. my musical director at the time came up with an idea. and that was put on the album that was called little stevie wonder live at the apollo. >> you're not so little anymore. you were once little stevie wonder, right? >> never little. big in spirit. small in size. growed to kind of match my spirit. >> larry: did the harmonica come naturally to you, too? >> it was -- it was something that obviously growing up in detroit here in the different harmonicas, playing the blues and walking on the streets, when i was off for the christmas holiday season, an uncle gave me a harmonica and obviously i
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didn't know what to do with the button. i said, what is this for? ♪ >> but then i figured for me it was like playing the saxophone for me. ♪ >> 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 attention to t i appreciated it but at a very early age i felt that 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, when you think
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about it, 13 years old, you're a big star and all of that kind of stuff. and you're talking about these interviews and things that they are going to do. okay, fine, but i want to go and watch huck ka barry. i was definitely a kid. >> larry: you never stop being a kid. you write a song. 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 if i were to see a piano or to see someone or all of the other things that you mentioned, i think i would be pretty close to where i would imagine it to be. i think i've got a pretty good imagination. and i think that, you know, we really feel before we see.
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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 brail? >> what is that? >> larry: you don't read brail? >> of course i read brail, yes. >> play under me. anything you wrote. ♪ >> larry: our guest is stevie wonder. we're honoring him tonight for the full hour. don't go away. ♪
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♪ ♪ very superstitious >> larry: we're back with stevie wonder. you toured with the rolling stones back in 1972. what was that like? >> it was interesting. it was a lot of fun. the album was very successful. ♪
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>> superstition i wrote on a day off of the tour for the stones. i mean, we had a good time. we really did. we went to the playboy mansion. we went to the playboy mansion in chicago. and at that time stupid me, i took my girlfriend. but it was great. i remember once we were performing -- we performed -- 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 get through, i said, i am mick jagger.
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they said, oh, you are, why you say that? and they let me through. >> did you like their music? >> yeah, i did. >> larry: you did. okay. when you write a song, where does it like -- my cheri amor, what a beautiful song. where did that come from? >> it was originally called -- ♪ >> larry: my marsha? >> yeah. my marsha i wish you were mine. >> why did you change it? >> marsha and i broke up. and so the lyrics -- i wrote my cheri amor. sorry marsha.
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>> larry: when you think a song out, somebody has to write down all of the notes, right? >> well, you know, in today's technology, you can play on these or the key boards or piano and through the technology that takes based on numbers, digital, information and take that information and convert that into the writing of each note that you play. the amount of beats. that's how it happens today. >> larry: the machine can write the note? >> yes, there is a machine through computer and software, it can be written out. >> are you always thinking of music? are you always sort of writing in your head?
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>> 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, you know, maybe the basic idea. but when i feel that i don't have a song or say, god, please give me another song. and i just am quiet and it happens. it's just amazing. >> larry: like -- play something. >> like -- ♪ 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 ♪
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♪ larry i remember listening to you when you interviewed james brown ♪ ♪ on the radio i was younger than and you were too a few years ago ♪ [ applause ] >> larry: they will record that and dump me and it will be marsha. more stevie after the break.
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♪ ♪
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♪ >> larry: do you have a favorite song? >> you know, i always when people ask me, what is my most favorite song, i quote due kellington, the favorite composition. i haven't written it yet because there are different songs for different occasions. there's as for a certain day and just called to love you for a certain day, just different 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. >> do you remember where it
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begins -- like "i just called to say i love you," where did the inspiration come from? >> i think the idea from the story came from really the spirit of how love is something that is for all seasons, whether it's a holiday or not a holiday or just being able to express that place any time love is always something that can be expressed. and then for years i just had the. ♪ ♪ ♪ i just called to say i love
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you ♪ ♪ i just called to say how much i care ♪ >> larry: do the lyrics come to you right away, too? >> well, the lyric for that came from me having 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 that 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? >> i just felt good about it all the time. i remember playing for it at different times, different birthdays and stuff. >> larry: had you other words for that, too? was there a marsha for that? >> no marsha. >> larry: have you written a song that 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
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incredible and then -- >> larry: what was one that disappointed you? >> i think a song, "all about the love again," i wrote that a while back and then recently we put it on the album for barack obama during the campaign. and i remember when i wrote this song, the idea of it was -- the melody was so catching. ♪ ♪ oh, yeah it sounds so good to me ♪ >> larry: that is. >> i know. what's up. ♪ >> larry: sounds good to me. ♪
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♪ >> larry: sounds good to me. stevie wonder, signed, sealed, delivered, he's yours next. to the morning bowl of cereal. and to lactaid® milk. easy to digest and with all the calcium and vitamin d of regular milk. [ female announcer ] lactaid®. the original lactose-free milk. and vitamin d of regular milk. etfs? exchange traded funds? don't just give me ten or twenty to choose from. come on. td ameritrade introduces commission-free etfs with a difference-- more choice. over a hundred etfs.... ...chosen by the unbiased experts at morningstar associates. let me pick what works for me. for me. for me. the etf market center at td ameritrade. before investing, carefully consider the fund's investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses. contact td ameritrade for a prospectus containing this and other information. read it carefully before investing.
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♪ i never dreamed in the summer ♪ ♪ my love has gone away why
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didn't you stay ♪ >> 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, god forbid they pass away, then why do you come after they died to talk about their business? i was not feeling that at all. >> larry: we're back with stevie wonder. i guess the song that is more nightclub performances, is for once in my life. >> 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.
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and the reason i will do it because, as much of some of the things that i did see when you were doing the things about michael jackson kind of pissed me off 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? ♪ you can 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. i was like maybe 12 years old, 13, 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, i've got a great idea to do this song.
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they said, what song? i said, for once in my life. i went to the studio and started going -- ♪ he said, what are you doing? i said, listen. ♪ ♪ for once in my life i have someone beneath me ♪ ♪ someone i dated for so long ♪ for once i'm afraid somehow i know i'll be strong ♪ ♪ for once i can touch with my heart as a dreamer long before i knew ♪ ♪ oh, someone more like you would make -- by the time i get to that, i hear this knock on the door and they say, what are you doing to my song? and i said, i'm telling you, rod, this is going to be a hit. he said, no, no, no.
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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 -- no. but any way, i said, i'm telling you, i feel it. >> larry: you put your own stamp on it, though. >> 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 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: we've got to go to break here. >> you going to sing with me. >> larry: sure, let's go. ♪ for once in my life i have someone that needs me someone
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that i've needed for so long ♪ ♪ for once i'm afraid i can go where it leads me ♪ ♪ and somehow i know i'll be strong ♪ ♪ my heart is a dreamer ♪ long before i knew -- we'll be right back.
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♪ and she's gone ♪ i'll be loving you always ♪ isn't she lovely
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>> larry: we're back with stevie wonder. how did me and ivory come about? ♪ side by side why don't we >> it was a promotion 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 other person was herb who worked in motown right when i first got with motown.
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and so, you know, we worked it out to connect and get together. we met and we recorded the song. i felt the sentiment would be something that was appropriate 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 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 gala, we sang that song together. but i didn't do ivory. >> you may have been ebony. >> larry: let's see if we remember a little bit of it. i don't remember the first line. >> ebony. ♪ ebony and ivory lived together in perfect harmony ♪
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♪ side by side on my piano keep on hold on why can't we ♪ ♪ side by side on my piano keep on why can't we ♪ ♪ ebony and ivory >> larry: how we going to top that? >> you stopped singing in the middle of it. >> i know, i gave up. >> so when the record comes out, you don't get as much as me. >> how many instruments do you play? >> keyboards, drums, percussion instruments. >> larry: anyone you want to work with that you haven't? >> i mean, i'm a big fan of music. i'm a music lover. so there probably isn't no one that i wouldn't want to work it.
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i think it would come down to the chemistry. and if the chemistry was right and 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 so tea. hold on. how can we do this? ♪ >> larry: one handed. ♪ music is within itself a language that we all understand ♪ ♪ with an equal opportunity for all to sing ♪ ♪ just because the record has a group doesn't make it in the group ♪ ♪ you can tell when the people start to move ♪
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♪ 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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♪ >> 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, i have some musical knowledge but i don't know anything. and the song is called "part-time lover." what's your take on -- how did that come about? >> how did i write the song? >> larry: yeah. not marcia again. >> this one involved a few -- a couple different people.
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but this song i wrote when i was in england and i don't know, it was just an idea. the whole thing, the beat then was like -- and so it was like -- ♪ call up once, hang up the phone to let me know -- let me start again. ♪ call up, hang up the phone to let me know you got in ♪ ♪ 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 ♪
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lovers by night, knowing it's so wrong but feeling so right ♪ ♪ you know, we can go on and on. >> larry: do you still do a lot of concerts? >> yes. we just recently did the tour throughout europe. we've had different concepts. the next two i'm going to do is going to be called "threw 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 -- how i've done the various songs and how i visualize various things could be with something that would be a visual. 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've written, i have sort of a
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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: you ever think of hanging it up? >> hanging what up. >> larry: hanging up the career. 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, 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. maybe just write songs or whatever. but -- i love performing.
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>> larry: we'll be back with our remaining moments with the great stevie wonder.
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♪ ♪ oh, my time i've been building my castle of love ♪ ♪ just for two, though you're never near ♪ ♪ i've gone much too far, for you now to say that i've got ♪ ♪ to throw my castle away, and though you don't believe that ♪ ♪ they do, they do come true, my dreams came true when i looked ♪ ♪ at you, and maybe too if you
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would believe you too might be ♪ ♪ overjoyed, overloved over me ♪ >> larry: our remaining moments with the great stevie wonder. i -- boy. it's -- 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 brook lynne. >> if i could ask you a question, how have you enjoyed, you've met so many different personalties -- >> larry: i've enjoyed every minute of it. >> really? >> larry: 50 years went by yesterday. i remember the first day i started. but this is about you. so i'm going to, the great artie shore, 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?
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>> 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 and 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, you ever sing "america"? >> i haven't sang the song. i like the song. >> larry: you ought to sing "america the beautiful". >> okay. i think it's a very, very pretty song. certain songs you hear people sing, you say, you know what? i'm not going to think about touching that, because he did such an incredible job of it. the national anthem that whitney houston did, incredible.
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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's a song that i wrote called until you come back to me, and my version was very sort of pop oriented a little bit. and i really did it and it was like aretha franklin did it and it was like, forget about it. >> larry: play a little of it while we're closing out. stevie wonder's been our guest. "ac 360" is going to follow and the latest news on cnn. play us out, stevie. ♪ i sit and wait in vain ♪ i love to rap on your door, tap on your window pane ♪ ♪ i want to tell you, baby, the changes i've been going through ♪


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