CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interviews With Joe Biden, Chuck Hagel, Tim McGraw
Aired December 10, 2002 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, Tim McGraw. He's a country music megastar and so is his wife, Faith Hill. He's here for a rare in- depth and personal interview and he'll take your calls.
But first, exclusive. They just got back a few hours ago from Northern Iraq? What did they see? In their first interview, fresh that their mission to the Middle East, senators Joe Biden and Chuck Hagel, next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening. We'll meet Tim McGraw in a little while. Joining us from Wilmington, Delaware, Joseph Biden just departing as foreign relations committee chairman. And in Omaha, Chuck Hagel, also a member of the foreign relations committee.
They're both just back from a week-long fact-finding mission throughout the Middle East.
First, gentleman, we're start with Senator Hagel. What do you make of this North Korean vessel they found today with SCUD-type missiles on board?
SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: Larry, when Senator Biden and I were with General Tommy Franks on Sunday, he told us about the ship, that our people had been monitoring it and had an eye on it for a number of days and told us that they were getting close to boarding it.
I don't have all the facts yet, but obviously it points up once again a very specific example of how dangerous the -- and real these threats are to that part of the world, which, of course, means they are threats to more than just that part of the world, but they're threats to all of the world.
KING: On balance, Senator Biden, is not North Korea a greater threat than Iraq?
SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: Well, that's hard to say. I think it may be. It has greater potential. It has -- is a great exporter of arms. One of the good things about that interception, and General Franks told us about it, was that the Spaniards were in on the deal here.
There was a coalition effort to follow it. It was our intelligence and our Marines -- our folks that boarded it. But he emphasized the importance of this coordination, that the Middle East understand this is not just the United States of America, but this is the civilized world dealing with these problems.
KING: You gentlemen visited Jordan, Turkey, Israel, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the Kurdish-controlled area of Northern Iraq. What was your overall impression, Senator Hagel?
HAGEL: Well, Larry, once again it points out the complications that we're dealing with here in that region of the world.
We met with the leaders of each of those countries. And there is no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat. He is a problem. We must deal with him. The real issue is, how we go about doing that so that we keep a coalition together and so that we are able to not further destabilize that part of the world once Saddam Hussein has disarmed or once he's gone.
That's the real challenge that we have. And it's important that we bring into this dimension all of the various dynamics here of each of these nations and these great challenges.
Again, these are complicating and difficult, dangerous times, but we must address this area of the world and help our friends and allies because they need the help. And we must understand the history and traditions and all of the interests that each of those nations have that would then be able the melt into the overall solution, resolution and dealing with Saddam Hussein.
KING: Did -- Senator Hagel -- Senator Biden, did any of the Arab leaders express concern about the possibility of war with Saddam Hussein?
BIDEN: Well, they all did to one degree or another. None of them were happy about this prospect. None of them like him.
And really, Larry, what we found whether we were talking to anyone from our military, and we met a lot of generals in addition to Franks in the region, all the way to, you know, Palestinian reformers and everyone in the region was, It's not going to be the day after, it's going to be the decade after.
And they want to know, are we in for the long haul? Are we going to make sure that country isn't going to disintegrate? It's going to be a very tough job. And establishing a democracy, as the administration is talking about, is going to be a monumental task.
What they really want to know is, If you're going to go get him, are you going to finish the job? And they don't mean just take him down. They mean -- they mean stabilizing the situation after he is taken down.
KING: In that regard, Senator Hagel, what did you learn in Northern Iraq?
HAGEL: Well, Larry, there are not many of us who have ever been to that part of the world. We came away from that day and a half, I think that was the total time that we had, as we drove into the interior from the Turkish border about five, six hours, that a number of observations that I think could be captured this way.
One, it's very impressive what the Kurds have been able to put together in the way of building a society, a civil society, developing an economy, improving their children's and their people's future by building schools and hospitals.
It also was quite evident of the great tragedy that these people have endured, the great suffering at the hands of Saddam Hussein and others.
But there's great hope in this area, Larry. What we want to see is an Iraq that is representative of all of the minorities in Iraq. The Kurds certainly, the Asyrians, the Turkemans, in Northern Iraq, coming together to help rebuild Iraq in a way that all nations, people represented there in Iraq will be represented in a government with a future.
KING: Senator Biden, is this a fate acompli? Is the United States going to Iraq?
BIDEN: Probably, but not -- it's not inevitable, Larry.. I think the president's got it just right. He's playing this out the way he should play it out because, quite frankly, Larry, the one thing we don't want to do is we don't want to be an occupying power after we take down Saddam. We got to have other folks in on the deal.
We have to have this a civilian run operation somewhat like Kosovo after the fact with U.S. and coalition forces backing it up. Otherwise we're going to be there as the sitting ducks.
And so it's very, very important that we all stay together and the closer we're together, the more the president's in on the deal with the rest of the United Nations, the more likely it is that Saddam is going to yield. It's not likely, but it is more likely.
And so I don't think it's inevitable at all, although every body in the region thinks it's a fate acompli.
KING: Thank you.
BIDEN: Every body in the region thinks it's a done deal.
KING: Thank you, Senator Joe Biden, Senator Chuck Hagel. We'll be calling upon you again in the days ahead. And happiest of holidays to both of you.
And when we come back country superstar Tim McGraw joins us on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. And we will be taking your calls. Don't go away.
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KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE one of the major stars in the field of country music. He has career sales of 25 million CDs, albums. His new CD is just debuted at number two, "Tim McGraw & the Dance Hall Doctors." There you see the cover of the CD and a book released with it about the making of it.
Tim is married, of course, to Faith Hill. His new album knocked hers from number two to number three and he came in at number two. And that in fact "Dance Hall Doctors" sold 602,000 copies its first week out. That's more then Jennifer Lopez CD or Paul McCartney.
Was it kind of weird to knock your wife down a peg?
TIM MCGRAW, COUNTRY MUSICIAN: Well, it was great that we both had albums in the top 10. That was the great thing. It's been a great success for us.
KING: No rivalry?
MCGRAW: No, are you kidding? To me it's the better she does it's early retirement. She thinks the same thing about me.
KING: Lot of things to talk about. Why a book commensurate with a CD?
MCGRAW: I have always been a big fan growing up, from the time that we had albums turned into CDs, cassettes, 8 tracks.
KING: You remember 45s?
MCGRAW: Yes, I had 45s.
KING: Thirty three-and-third?
MCGRAW: I don't remember 33-and-third. I might have had a few laying around, but I remember the 45s. But to me, I was a big fan of the album packaging. You know, when you get a new album, when you were 14-years-old you just looked through every part of it. You read the trademark signs on it. You just read everything on the album. This was such a special project to us. It's the first time I recorded an album with my band. I just felt like I couldn't get enough in the album package. To me the book was just a huge album package with some text to it.
KING: Beautifully done by the way.
MCGRAW: Kelly in our office and Glenn. Kelly does great work.
KING: What's the meaning of "Dance Hall Doctors"?
MCGRAW: That's the name of my band.
KING: That's the name of the band?
MCGRAW: Came from an old Conway Twitty song "Between a Blue & Jeans." It was named by Randy Davis who was my roommate when I first moved to Nashville. And he is also the original drummer of the "Dance Hall Doctors." And he kind of laid the name on us one night when we were trying to find name.
KING: Lets talk a little about the life Tim McGraw. You're the son of Tug McGraw, who I know, one of the great relief pitchers in baseball history. The creator of You Gotta Believe, the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies. But you didn't know that until you were what age?
MCGRAW: I guess probably 11 year old.
KING: You were raised by a stepfather?
MCGRAW: Horace Smith.
KING: Was your name Tug Smith?
MCGRAW: Tim Smith, yes. My name was Smith up until I got into college. It got weird because I don't think my name was ever changed to Smith...
MCGRAW: I guess it was semi-legally. It was in a small town of Louisiana. So whatever it took for me not to find out is what happened.
KING: How did you find out?
MCGRAW: My mother used to keep Christmas presents in her closet. I was going through the closet looking for Christmas presents. I ran across my birth certificate. That's how I found out.
KING: Were you a baseball fan?
MCGRAW: Yes. I had a couple years earlier I had Tug's baseball card up on my wall. I had a few other people. I wasn't the only kid.
KING: So what did you do? How did you make contact? You asked your mother obviously?
MCGRAW: I called my mom at work, and of course, she came immediately home. We drove around for a long time and she explained everything to me.
KING: Did you think Mr. Smith was your father?
MCGRAW: Yes, I did, yes, absolutely.
KING: How did you make the contact with your father, your real father?
MCGRAW: Mom got hold of him and said that I had found out and wanted to meet him. Of course, I did in Houston, Texas. I think he gave up a grand slam that night. KING: What was it like? You watched him pitch?
MCGRAW: Watched him pitch. It was first time I had ever been out of Louisiana, I think. Might have went to Florida to my grandmothers maybe once before.
KING: There's your dad.
MCGRAW: There he is. He had great form, too.
KING: He did.
MCGRAW: He can still throw real well.
KING: How old is he?
MCGRAW: Probably going to make him older than he is. Seems like he's 58, 57.
KING: What was that first meeting like? Awkward?
MCGRAW: It was awkward. I was 11-years-old. I was a kid. I think it was more traumatic for everybody around me than it was for me. I think probably became a little more traumatic for me as I got a little older.
KING: Did you ever want to play?
MCGRAW: I was always an athlete, yes, I played.
KING: You played ball? Were you good at baseball?
MCGRAW: I'm 35 years old. Course I'm going to tell you I was good now.
KING: You played little league?
MCGRAW: I played -- I was a pretty good ball player.
KING: When did you know you wanted to sing?
MCGRAW: I got into college and...
MCGRAW: Northeast Louisiana University, which is University of Louisiana at Monroe now is what it is. And it was -- I had a great time. It was 15 minutes from where I grew up. And I got into college and during one summer stated playing guitar. I always loved music. I always sang every song on the radio. I have always a big fan of music and sang.
KING: But you didn't think you'd be a singer?
MCGRAW: No, no more than any other kid.
KING: What was your major?
MCGRAW: In college? Which major? I started out -- I was a prelaw major is what I was. I ended up paying more lawyers than I ever would have made as one.
KING: You got close to your father during this time, right?
MCGRAW: Actually, at 11 I saw him twice and then I didn't see him again until I was 18. I didn't talk to him maybe but once.
KING: But then got close?
MCGRAW: I think it took him a while. He had a family. They were young kids. I it just think it took him a while.
KING: Are you close with your half brothers and sisters?
MCGRAW: Yes. Mark lives in Oregon. He's a firefighter in Oregon. Kerry lives here in California. My two sisters who I grew up, who are my sisters as far as I'm concerned. I grew up with those guys.
KING: Do you still see Mr. Smith?
MCGRAW: Yes. I see him...
KING: You got a huge collection.
MCGRAW: We have an extended family. We're trying to figure out how to keep everybody's name straight with our kids.
KING: You were first a guitar player?
MCGRAW; Just a rhythm player. I never considered myself a guitar player. I learned how to play, taught myself how to play over a summer in college. And my roommates were Ricky Hooter and Lance Butler, Warren. They used to hide my guitar. I was so bad they used to hide the guitar until some girls came over. If some girls came over they'd bring the guitar out, and ask me to play.
KING: When did you start to sing?
MCGRAW: Started playing after the first summer i got a guitar. started playing for clubs in tips. i did that for a year or so. moved to Jacksonville, Florida, where I played the clubs circuit for a while and then went to Nashville.
KING: What was for want of a better word, the break?
MCGRAW: Mike Borshetta, is a great guy, friend of mine, worked at Curve Records had heard from a friend of his who was in the car with Tug. I had a demo tape that I made of a couple songs that weren't very good. And Tug happened to have it in his car and picked up a friend of his who was the bat boy for the Phillies a long time ago, but whose son was a bat boy or he was a bat boy, I can't remember exactly. But he worked for a record label out here in California and was friends with Mike Borshetta. Might have called just to see if he'd meet with me. I kept trying to call Mike for years, weeks and weeks and couldn't get a phone call could get a meeting. So I just showed up at the office and walked in his office and he was trying to get me out. I talked him into listening to the tape. He called Dick Whitehouse, the guy...
KING: And they signed you?
MCGRAW: Signed me a couple weeks later.
KING: We'll pick up on that. Tim McGraw, his new one "Tim McGraw & The Dance Hall Doctors" debuted at No. 2 on the country charts. There's an accompanying book called "This Is Ours." This is LARRY KING LIVE, we'll be right back.
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KING: Miss Faith Hill, Mrs. McGraw. They have three children. What was the first meeting like?
MCGRAW: The first time we ever met...
KING: Were you famous then?
MCGRAW: We were both -- had just started -- we had our first hit.
KING: Kind of well known.
MCGRAW: We had our first hit under our belt. There was a thing called Country Radio Seminar that happens in Nashville every year in the early spring, March, February, March...
KING: Whole fanfare?
MCGRAW: This is called CRS -- Country Radio Seminar. It's not fanfare.
MCGRAW: Radio stations come all over the country. It's a big vendor probably more than anything. They come there and lot of the new acts do shows. We were a new acts then. There was probably seven or eight of us doing one show for all these guys. Just met briefly backstage taking a picture.
KING: What went on from there?
MCGRAW: From there it was a year or so after that, I can't -- maybe not quite a year, but we ended up -- there was talk about us touring together. We both had the same -- CAA, the same booking agency.
Getting ready to put a tour together and talking about acts that should tour together. Her and I got brought up as touring together. We did a show for the first Time that we really met more than just saying hi taking a picture. We did a show in Wisconsin.
KING: Who opened and who closed?
MCGRAW: On the first tour, well, I opened -- I mean I closed and she opened but I don't think that had anything to do with precedence. It was just the way...
KING: Usually who gets first billing?
MCGRAW: Yes, yes.
KING: Did you connect right away after that?
MCGRAW: Oh, yes.
KING: With the chemistry?
MCGRAW: Yes. I think it took her a little while to figure it out than it did me.
KING: You were right away?
MCGRAW: I was hooked right away. Absolutely.
KING: Did it work singing together?
MCGRAW: Oh, yes. The first -- we did a song on tour called "Nobody Knows It But Me" that was Tony Rich Project had a big hit with it and Kevin Sharp had a big hit with it country.
But we were doing that song on our first tour together before we were dating or anything. We were doing that together. We enjoyed it immensely singing that song together.
KING: How long before you got serious?
MCGRAW: Months. I mean, couple months, I guess. Well probably three, four months.
KING: You have, what -- run down the children for me.
MCGRAW: Gracey's five, Maggie's four and Audrey just turned a year old on December 6..
KING: Audrey was the one that was born with a problem, right?
MCGRAW: Well she wasn't having problems, she was just early. She was seven weeks early and she was really small. No problem. She's perfectly healthy. She just had to spend a couple weeks in the hospital until they got her weight up a little bit.
KING: Do you want a boy?
MCGRAW: I love my girls. I am the king of the house. I don't know. We're young yet, so we'll see what happens.
KING: Is Faith able to keep on getting pregnant giving birth and touring and making records? Isn't this kind of a tough life?
MCGRAW: Sure, man. She's tough.
At some point I guess when you have kids it's about time, and I think we've been lucky. We were lucky when we first got married because we both had successful careers. And I think that with us having kids, it's got ton a point where we're very successful and we can pick and choose the times we need to work and don't need to work. The amount of time we can spend with our kids and spend together as a family.
KING: They come first?
MCGRAW: They come first. Anything after that, if this fits our program, we'll do it. We don't have to do everything. We've come to the point no in our career where we don't have to do everything. That's been a blessing to us.
KING: So you don't tour a lot?
MCGRAW: This year I didn't tour much at all. This year I think I did 18, 20 shows and Faith didn't tour at all. I'll tour next year.
KING: Do you ever tour separately?
MCGRAW: We did -- the last tour Faith did, we did it separately. It wasn't at the same time. They kind of ran into each other at the end. It was easy for me to jump on a plane and meet them after my shows.
KING: Have you ever been a house husband?
MCGRAW: Probably not as much as she's been a housewife when I've been out working. It's never more than a couple days if we have to do it.
KING: But it is tough for children in a show business life isn't it?
MCGRAW: Yes. I think when they get older, I think it will be more tough than it is at the age they are now. They're starting to get at the age where they're getting into play groups and want to be at home more. This is probably the last year especially during school year that we can be on the road.
KING: Do you write your own music?
MCGRAW: No. I write, but I don't write much. I never like anything I write. These guys in Nashville, L.A. and New York, songwriters are the best.
KING: Where do they come up with these?
MCGRAW: They're the best. They put a movie in three minutes. So far I haven't been able to bring myself to put myself on that level to put a song on record.
KING: Does Faith write?
MCGRAW: She writes great, actually. She's never recorded anything she's written either but she should.
KING: Has she written for you?
MCGRAW: No. We haven't written a song for each other. Maybe she should.
KING: We'll be right...
MCGRAW: She don't have the time. Between three kids and a career and keeping me together.
KING: Three kids and a career. Having three kids and a career.
MCGRAW: You got it already.
KING: Tim McGraw one of the great stars in American music. We'll be taking your calls for Tim on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. "Tim McGraw & The Dance Hall Doctors" is now out on CD. And the book, "This Is Ours" also out. Don't go away.
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FAITH HILL, WIFE: The night started off great for me because I won the first award and I was like off the hook. I could at least say I had one. And then from then on out, it was just unbelievable. And then when Tim wins male vocalist of the year, the whole night. I mean, I don't know. I couldn't top it. It was awesome.
MCGRAW: She won all these awards. She works so hard. She should win mom of the year too. She takes care of our babies, takes care of me. She's great.
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KING: That's, of course, Faith Hill. And we're going to have a surprise guest calling in later with Tim McGraw, so stay tuned for that. The book is called "This is Ours." It's already on "The New York Times Best Seller List."
You're a nice guy. You smile a lot. How come you appear to be dark and brooding? Like, on your albums you don't smile, right. The dark look. Someone called you country's new bad boy.
MCGRAW: I don't think I'm a bad boy. You know, you're supposed to be a brooding artist, aren't you? Isn't that the cool thing to do?
KING: That's right, yes.
MCGRAW: Everybody does.
KING: Is that a little act? A little shtick?
MCGRAW: No, it's just I'm not very comfortable doing that, you know, taking pictures and things like that.
KING: You don't?
MCGRAW: No, I don't enjoy that. So probably half the time I'm not very happy about having to be there and do it. It's probably more reason I'm not smiling in anything.
KING: Have you ever gotten into tussles?
MCGRAW: Well, a few, yes.
KING: You went to court once, right?
MCGRAW: Yes, I did. Yes. But...
KING: But you were acquitted.
MCGRAW: Yes, I was acquitted. Never to the point where to the point it was just bad, outright ugly, I think.
KING: You have a temper?
MCGRAW: No more than anybody else, but yes, I have a little bit of a temper. I'm from Louisiana. So -- and I'm Irish and Italian.
KING: Irish and Italian?
MCGRAW: My mother's on the Italian -- I got a little Irish and Italian from my mother's side and of course, like I was telling you before, Scotch Irish. So, there's a little bit of temper in there.
KING: Tug must be very proud of you, though, right?
KING: You're more famous than he?
MCGRAW: Well, in some circles. You know, in some circles. But, you know, there's a lot of circles, you know, I can go in the ball parks and stuff and that's the first thing everybody wants to talk about. And that's fine with me.
KING: You've done some things together, haven't you?
MCGRAW: Yes, we played ball together a few times. Played in the old timers game a few times in Florida. We see each other often. We did a Bud Lite commercial together which was a lot of fun.
KING: That was fun.
MCGRAW: Yes, that was one of the times that what was really great about was playing ball when we did the road. When we did the commercial, we threw ball -- the baseball...
KING: Field of dreams. Fathers and sons. That's what the game's about.
Let's take some calls for Tim McGraw. The album is "Tim McGraw & The Dance Hall doctors."
Alberta, Canada, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry.
CALLER: Hi, Canada loves you up here, your show.
KING: Thank you.
CALLER: I have a question for Tim. Hi, Tim.
MCGRAW: Hi, how you doing?
CALLER: Good. We love you up in Canada. And then when you tour next year, I hope that you make a stop in Edmonton, Alberta.
MCGRAW: Thank you. I'm sure we will.
CALLER: My question is, for being such a famous country singer and that, how do you keep your priorities straight like with all the fame and like the paparazzi and stuff like that? How do you keep yourself grounded?
KING: Good question.
MCGRAW: You know, it's just-- to us it's keeping the family is our priority. You know, people talk about how you balance a career. Well, you know, it's really not a balance to it. I think if you don't -- if you balance suggests equality and there's no equality between your family and career, as far as I'm concerned.
And, you know, and I sit here saying that. It's easy for me to say that. It's easy for me to say that because I can take time off work. And I can say I'm not going to do that, I'm going to spend time with my family. There are lot of people who can't do that. A lot of people can't do that.
So I don't even want to be smug saying that there's no balance. Because I can do that. But it isn't. Our career is important to us but it's not as important as the family is to us. And that's what, you know, when we can get behind the doors in our house, we're home.
KING: Do you enjoy the fame?
MCGRAW: I enjoy -- yes. I mean, I don't think you would be in this business doing this if you didn't enjoy it at some level. There's things about it that...
KING: There are some artists who appear not to enjoy it.
MCGRAW: Well, there's some people that don't and there's some people that pretend they like they don't too when they get mad if they don't see themselves if they don't see themselves in the paper.
KING: Well said. Romulus, Michigan, hello.
Tim, my question is for you, that have you and Faith Hill ever thought about doing a Christmas CD together?
MCGRAW: We have thought about it, actually, and one of these days we probably will. But gosh, we don't have time right now. It will be fun to do a Christmas CD together.
KING: What makes country music different?
MCGRAW: I think it's on an individual artist basis that makes country music different. And it makes every music different. But, you know, I think that there's just a real -- country music to me is an americana music. It's the music that's just really -- you know, just as rock 'n' roll is American, country music is an American music too and it's a music that really transcends a lot of borders and lot of people that enjoy listening to it.
KING: Now the most popular radio form.
MCGRAW: I think so and I think the thing that makes country music more popular than anything to me is the diversity of music that country music has. There are the different styles of music that are inside of country music. I think that's important that country music keeps that because I think that's...
KING: Do you listen to other kinds of music?
MCGRAW: Yes, I mean, I'm a huge '70s classic rock fan. KING: Really?
MCGRAW: Yes, and I'm a huge '70s country music fan too -- I just -- '70s music to me just had a realness to it that's hard to get.
KING: So you like groups like...
MCGRAW: The Eagles -- big Eagles fan. I love Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, of course. I love Phil Collins, which I guess is a little more '80s but I love those guys in Genesis. Rush. Big Rush fan. Alabama, of course, one of my all-time favorites.
KING: What a band they are.
MCGRAW; Yes, I mean, unbelievable.
KING: Coral Springs, Florida, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Tim. How you doing?
MCGRAW: Good. How are you doing?
CALLER: Good. No. 1, I think besides being so talented, you and your wife, Faith, are so gorgeous together. You're a gorgeous couple.
MCGRAW: She makes me look good. Yes.
CALLER: I just wanted to know who inspired you to become a country singer and would you like to see your children some day grow up and be in the business?
MCGRAW: Well, you know how tough the business is, so you all want your kids to be doctors and lawyers. But you want them to be happy. So if that makes them happy, then that's great.
I just -- you know, Faith and I have talked about it before. We just hope they're good.
KING: Yes, don't be a bad country singer.
MCGRAW: It's tough enough when you're good. But it's not really fun if you're not.
KING: The McGraw sisters. Oh, boy.
MCGRAW: But I think it's going to be, for Gracey and Maggie probably, anyway, they both love to sing. And they are really are good at it. And they love music and they're fascinated by music.
I mean, Gracey loves Aerosmith. That's her favorite group ever. She thinks Steven Tyler is the bomb, I guess. They definitely have those tendencies.
KING: The -- your first hit was "Indian Outlaw" and it caused, as I understand it, an uproar among Native Americans. How did you react to all that? MCGRAW: Well, I have never been one that really worried about my music too much. I do what I do.
KING: Politically correct doesn't...
MCGRAW: Yes, I mean, you don't want to intentionally offend anybody. I would never want to do that. I always thought that, to me, I thought that it was more of a means to an end. And it was a platform. I don't think it necessarily had anything to do with my song, that anybody thought that was that offensive.
But it was an opportunity have some issues and if my song could have been used for an opportunity for American Indians to speak out on issues that they have issues with and really need attention paid to them, then, you know, bring on the controversy because they got their issues heard.
KING: So you don't think when you record about repercussions or -- if you like the song...
MCGRAW: If I like the song, to me that's the most important thing. I mean -- I mean, you can't take -- you just can't try to pick and choose what's real and what isn't. It's either real or it isn't real.
KING: Have you turned down songs you regretted?
MCGRAW: I don't think I have ever turned down songs I have regretted. I've heard songs that were hits for other people. I can't pick songs for other people. I only pick songs for me.
KING: I mean, was there a song that came to you and said I'll pass and suddenly it was No. 1?
MCGRAW: Not that I can think of. I can't think of one that I passed on that I wished I would have cut.
KING: Are you a pretty good judge? In other words, those that you thought have done well have done well or have they surprised you?
MCGRAW: It's been both. I'm a guy that picks off beat songs. Probably less now. I pick less songs now for -- that I think are going to do well than I have before.
KING: Is it tough to get a song to you?
MCGRAW: You know, songwriters would probably say it is.
KING: Got to be careful with copyright and...
MCGRAW: Yes, but I think even tougher than getting a song to me is getting one by me.
KING: Spoken like a relief pitcher's son.
We'll be back with more of Tim McGraw with a surprise guest calling in later. Don't go away.
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KING: The great Tim McGraw. How do you like being -- before we get back to calls -- in all the tabloids? Is that enjoyable? Are you sick of it?
MCGRAW: It's tabloids.
KING: Do you disregard it?
MCGRAW: You kind of disregard it, yes.
KING: "Faith Hill baby fights for life."
MCGRAW: I know. The time that it does get to you is when they talk about your kids. Our kids aren't old enough to read stuff and understand some of this stuff.
KING: They love people rushed to hospitals. They love that.
MCGRAW: It's just the thing that they like to write about.
KING: Do you ever get used to it?
MCGRAW: You just ignore it. You don't get used to it. Just kind of like critics. You just kind of ignore it.
KING: Oklahoma City, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Tim. I followed you from the start. I'm a huge fan. What do you and Faith enjoy doing in your spare time?
MCGRAW: Nothing. I enjoy doing nothing.
MCGRAW: I'm lazy.
KING: Are you writing a book on fatherhood? Is that true?
MCGRAW: They tell me I am. I haven't got there yet.
KING: You're that managed? MCGRAW: No, no. It's something that's going to be worked on in the future. But we haven't gotten around to doing it. It won't be advice, I can tell you that.
KING: It won't be?
MCGRAW: No, it won't be.
KING: When you take time off, you just cool it?
MCGRAW: Yes. We like to do nothing. We like to go to the beach.
KING: Nashville's home?
MCGRAW: Nashville's -- well right outside of Nashville's home.
KING: You travel a lot?
MCGRAW: Travel a lot...
KING: When you're not singing.
MCGRAW: This year we spent a lot of time in London and spent some time in Japan and spent some time in...
KING: Are you received well there, by the way? Are you well- known?
MCGRAW: They don't know who the hell I am anywhere. But I can't take the blonde chick with me anywhere.
KING: They know her?
MCGRAW: They know her. For sure.
KING: Redding, Pennsylvania, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Tim. How are you?
MCGRAW: Good. How you doing?
CALLER: Oh not bad. First of all you're really incredible, I love the new album.
MCGRAW: Thank you.
CALLER: I have to send love from the zoners on the Internet for you.
MCGRAW: Yes. Hi to all those guys.
CALLER: OK. Thank you. I have been to many of your concerts. What's going through your mind when we're all there screaming, carrying on, grabbing at you, really enjoying ourselves. What's going through your mind? MCGRAW: I have such a good time. My band are my best friends. I've got eight guys that have been with me forever.
KING: You're enjoying it up there?
MCGRAW: I'm enjoying it.
KING: You like the adulation?
MCGRAW: I love it. I'm having a great time. To me, that's why I got in this business.
KING: Do you ever forget what city you're in?
MCGRAW: Oh, yes. Do that all the time. You just hope it's written down on the set list.
KING: When that commercial plays, Thank you, Detroit.
MCGRAW: You can totally relate to it.
KING: St. Catherine, Ontario, Canada. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, Tim. I'd like to start off by saying that I'm just -- I just love you. I'm your greatest fan.
MCGRAW: Thank you.
CALLER: I had the privilege of squeezing your hand in back June when you came to Toronto, so I was really flattered.
KING: What's the question?
CALLER: OK, my question is you being such an incredible sexy superstar, what's it like being married to one of the most beautiful talented, you know, women in the world as Faith?
MCGRAW: She's the most beautiful. Not one of the most as far as I'm concerned. She's the most.
It's the best. Besides all that, she's just beautiful and she's probably to me the best -- she's the best singer in the world right now. She's got to be one of the top five vocalists in the world. She's just so good.
KING: Good mother?
MCGRAW: Great. Everything else that she does pales compared to the mother and wife that she is. KING: We're going to take a break and when we come back we're going to have a surprise phone-in guest. The album is "Tim McGraw & The Dance Hall Doctors." It's No. 2. Sold 602,000 copies its first week out and pushed his wife's album to No. 3.
And there's also the companion book called "This Is Ours." And we'll be right back. Don't go away.
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KING: We're back with Tim McGraw. On phone is the poor lady, I guess she's complaining, she had the No. 2 album in the country, racked down to No. 3. Faith Hill joins us. Are you there, dear?
HILL: Hi, Larry. How are you?
KING: I am well.
HILL: Hi, honey.
MCGRAW: Hey. What are you doing?
HILL: I want to get your order for dinner.
MCGRAW: OK. I'm ready.
HILL: Hey, you know who you look like?
HILL: You look like your mama.
MCGRAW: I look like my mama?
HILL: You look like Betty.
MCGRAW: That's a good thing. My mom's a knockout.
HILL: That's a huge compliment.
KING: Who does Faith look like?
MCGRAW: Wow. Do you know what? Sometimes she looks like Bridget Bardot to me. HILL: Oh, man. Come home right now.
KING: How did you feel when you learned his album passed yours?
HILL: It all comes to the same place. No, are you kidding? Just thrilled beyond belief because this album is amazing. And it's an album that he's wanted to make for a very, very long time. Got to make it with his band, The Dance Hall Doctors.
Are you kidding? He deserves it. He deserves to be entered, No. 2 on the pop charts, 602,000 records. I have never sold that many records ever. He kicked some major butt.
KING: He did.
MCGRAW: But she sold a bunch of records and had half as many albums as I did.
KING: We've asked him, we'll ask you, Faith. What is it like when a couple are both big in the entertainment field and have little children?
HILL: Well, you know, we just -- I don't know. We just do it. We have these careers that we're very blessed to have. But it is -- it's a love but it's a job for us as well.
But our family comes first before anything else. It's not really a choice. We just do it. I don't know. I don't think we ever think about it.
KING: Do you want more children?
HILL: Yes. We would like to have about 15 or 20 kids.
MCGRAW: Depends on what day you ask.
HILL: Hopefully. Maybe so. Maybe so.
KING: You keep trying to get a boy?
HILL: We definitely keep trying.
MCGRAW: We might go to about 12 if we keep trying that. The girls are -- I feel like a king around the house. They are already wanting to take care of me.
KING: Is the premature one, has she done all right now? Did she grow up fast? Is she at normal weight now, Faith?
HILL: Oh, yes. She's great. She's walking. She's just perfect. She's perfect.
KING: Faith, you are beautiful. We look forward to when you appear on this show and he'll call in to speak to you.
HILL: OK, Larry. KING: That's a deal.
HILL: Thank you so much. Bye-bye.
HILL: Bye, honey.
MCGRAW: Bye-bye, baby.
KING: She is something special.
MCGRAW: She is. She really is. I'm very lucky. Very lucky. Our kids are very lucky.
KING: And that love has maintained?
MCGRAW: It's getting stronger all the time. We're on own, with our fivesome it's like us against the world. Nobody can know how -- know more about what we're doing than we do with each other.
KING: Were you a poor kid?
KING: So what is it like now to be able to go by a store and see a jacket and you like it and you don't have to say how much?
MCGRAW: It's great. It's -- the best thing about it is, especially being married is not to have that problem hanging over your head. I think that, gosh, so many people have to deal with that.
I saw my mom. I can remember nights my mom, who was basically a single mother. I can remember nights getting out of bed at 12, 13, 14-years-old, and her sitting there crying over bills over the table and just not knowing what to do.
It's a great relief in your life to not -- an artistically it's really a lot of freedom artistically when you've been successful and you've made a little money to really -- it's easier to disregard all the naysayers.
KING: But you're not hungry for it though? They say that it's hard to write the second successful book after the first successful book when you were hungry.
MCGRAW: I still love doing what I do. I love making records. And this album in particular was the first album. This is my eighth album. This is the first album I had been with my band who've been with me -- Darren my band leader's been with for 13 year now.
KING: Previous ones you sang solo?
MCGRAW: Studio musicians. Which are the great musicians, the best in the world. I wanted a sound that I could only get with my band. To me, this feels like a whole new career. It just feels like a new group.
KING: So the luxury of life that you have has not taken away your drive?
MCGRAW: No, not at all. Even when I didn't have any money, I never thought that much about it. It's great to have. I'm not going to say, money -- money...
KING: Money ain't bad.
MCGRAW: Money ain't bad. Exactly. If my kids -- if I can raise my kids to have a sense of humility about knowing where it came from and knowing that not everybody is as lucky as they are or has the opportunities that they have then that's -- then it makes the money even less of an issue if you can have your kids to be good about it.
KING: Going to go up and see that new stadium in Philly?
MCGRAW: Yes. Tug and I were talking about it. I would love to perform at Veterans Stadium before it goes.
KING: I'm sure it could be arranged?
MCGRAW: We would hope so. It would be a lot fun to do that. Maybe he can do "Casey At The Bat" with us.
KING: Hey, Tim. This has been a great pleasure.
MCGRAW: My pleasure. Good to meet you, sir.
KING: Tim McGraw, country superstar. The album is "Tim McGraw & The"-- they all say sir.
"Tim McGraw & The Dance Hall Doctors." Just debuted No. 2 and the accompanying book is "This Is Ours." And we thank Faith Hill for calling in.
I'll come back and tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.
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KING: We thank Tim McGraw for being our special guest. We thank his wife Faith Hill for calling in. Tomorrow night Bob Woodward returns. His book is the No. 1 bestseller. And we're going to talk more about George Bush and George Bush going to war.
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