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Interview With Shania Twain

Aired June 17, 2005 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, sexy country superstar Shania Twain tells all from growing up poor to the tragedy that killed her parents to the fairy tale life she lives today in a Swiss castle. Shania Twain for the hour is next on LARRY KING LIVE.
It's a great pleasure to welcome to LARRY KING LIVE one of the truly great talents in American recording, Shania Twain. The top selling female recording artist of all-time. The only artist to have three consecutive albums sell 10 million or more copies. Her 1997 CD "Come On Over" sold over 20 million, more than any album by any other female artist in the world.

How does that make you feel? Is that like humbling?

SHANIA TWAIN, SINGER: Privileged. Yeah. It makes me feel very privileged, very lucky.

KING: How do you explain it to yourself? What do you think it is that you do?

TWAIN: I don't think it's anything I do. It's such a combination of things. It's a combination of people, you know, producers, songwriting, of course, singing is a part of it, the performance, record label is a huge part of it. How much support you have there. Oh, gee, what's going on in the music industry at the time, what the climate is, what's going on in music culture in general.

KING: So there's many factors. Luck, timing, talent.

TWAIN: Many, many factors. Yes.

KING: And any of them in the wrong spot could mean a lot less right?

TWAIN: Well, I think that those -- all those different factors are what determine maybe, you know, what degree of success you reach. It maybe doesn't mean you won't be successful at all, although there are people who do fall through the cracks who are very talented and deserve to make it, and never get the opportunity.

So of course, I think every factor when they line up really well, then you know, you can hopefully have a chance at making it.

KING: There are so many facets to the business.


TWAIN: There was a time when I was -- after my very first record from Nashville, I thought I might not be one of those who actually really makes it, and I may end up back in Canada, just playing clubs. And that might -- this might have just been it. This might have been my big moment of being an international recording artist, and that's it. But you know, you can still make a great living at music without being rich and famous.

KING: When you were back in Canada working clubs, were you happy?

TWAIN: Yes, I was. I love music. And you know, I've always been very passionate about it. I was always writing music. I was. I was very happy. And maybe that was naive, because I'm not so sure now in retrospect if I would have said wow, when I'm 50 or even 40, will I want to be doing this.

But you know, I always had a backup plan too. I was always very practical and logical about things.

KING: Did you want to be a star?

TWAIN: Did I want to be a star? No, that wasn't in my goal. No, that wasn't part of my goal. Stardom, fame -- in fact, I'm not even sure if I knew what that really was, to be honest with you. Because a lot of people said, oh, Dolly Parton was a true star and she was one of my biggest heroes growing up.

But I'm not sure if it was necessary to be a star to make it. I wanted to get on the radio. I wanted to record my own songs, things that I had written. Because I spent so many years playing clubs doing cover music because that's how you get hired, by doing whatever the top 40 that's going.

KING: You got to sing it.

TWAIN: You got to sing it. And I would always sneak in my own songs. Some club owners were OK with it, others would kind of get ticked off sneaking in my own music. But the clubs were great. It was a good chance for me to cut my teeth on --as far as -- in a way, my education in live performance.

KING: You had a rough childhood, right?

TWAIN: Um-hum.

KING: Does that lend to how you write?

TWAIN: Oh, yes, I think so.

KING: Because it's you, right?

TWAIN: Absolutely. In fact, when I was a kid listening to Tammy Wynette songs or Dolly Parton songs or any of the pop songs, that -- because, I found then -- well, I think that rap lends itself to that more now, too, but when I was a kid, there were a lot of writers writing about their hardships in life, whether it was abuse or just being dirt poor or whatever and country music especially lends itself to that. But Stevie Wonder wrote a lot about that as well. And I was a big fan of his.

And I really related. I related. I was 10 years old, but I was relating to all of this misery already. And so I started writing very, very young. And related on a very mature level to all of these songs about whatever, violence and...

KING: Loss.

TWAIN: Yes, all kinds of tragedy basically. I was relating in my own way.

KING: What happened to your father, by the way?

TWAIN: My natural father? I have two fathers. My biological father -- well, he left when we were very, very young. I was still a toddler. I didn't remember him at all. And I met him later in life, when I was a young teenager.

KING: After you were successful?

TWAIN: No, when I was a teenager I met him once. It was my biological grandmother's wish. And my mother thought it was a good idea. She always had a respect for my grandmother. And said, you know, go and hang with her for a couple of days. So, I went there, for actually, a few weekends to spend time with her.

KING: What was that like?

TWAIN: It was really, nice. I related very well to her. It grounded me a little bit. I felt I had a little bit -- I don't know. I think I felt a little bit more in touch with my roots than I had.

KING: How about with your father?

TWAIN: It took a bit of the mystery out of it.

Well, my grandmother surprised me with a meeting with my father. I wasn't expecting to meet him and all of a sudden I heard this guy's voice.

KING: Wow.

TWAIN: And somebody walking up the stairs. And he showed up at her apartment. And she surprised me with this meeting.

So, it was the first time I'd really met him -- well, it was. I mean, as an adult that I had ever remembered. It was very nice. It was brief.

KING: Awkward?

TWAIN: It was a little bit awkward, yes. I mean, I guess I was 13 or 14-years-old, awkward age anyway.

KING: And you didn't get involved with him later in life at all?

TWAIN: No. I think that would have hurt my father, because my dad, Jerry, who raised us.

KING: Stepfather.

TWAIN: My stepfather from toddlerhood, it would have hurt him really badly, because he had struggled so hard to raise us as it was.

KING: He was poor, too?

TWAIN: Very poor. Came from a -- not that you have to be poor to come from a native, you know, Canadian family, but -- quite typical for our area for natives in our area to not have money and to really be scraping by. And so he -- he tried so hard to do his best for us. We weren't his children. And he really, he deserves a medal for everything he did.

KING: How many siblings?

TWAIN: There's five of us all together.

KING: So you're not native Canadian?

TWAIN: Well, my mother raised us to believe that we did have native on the other side of the family, but they deny it profusely. So, I don't really know. My mother might have been lying. I doubt that. I can't imagine. I can't bear the thought of that.

KING: And they died tragically, right?

TWAIN: My stepfather -- my dad -- I call him. He's my dad from this point on, we'll just say that. My dad Jerry and my mother died in a car accident. And gee, I don't remember the year now.

KING: Shania is not your birth name, is it?


KING: That's a very unusual name. I don't know anybody named Shania. Where did that come from, is that an Indian name?

TWAIN: It is. It's Ojibwe, which is my dad's tribe, band, yes.

And I was working in a -- after my parents died I was working at a resort and I met -- and we had wardrobe mistresses, because there was a lot of dancing and stuff going on. And there was -- one of the wardrobe mistress's name was Shania. She was also Ojibwe from one of her parents Indian, one white, mixed family. And I just thought the name was so beautiful.

And when I left there to go directly to Nashville with this recording contract, and to they said, we really think you need to change your name. But I said I can't change Twain, because Twain is my dad's name and he's gone. And someday I'm going to get married and you know, being old-fashioned I'm going to want to take my husband's name. And I'll never have Twain again. And I was just -- I was really sentimental about the whole thing. So, I thought if I came up with another first name, I could keep Twain. So, Shania...

KING: Twain ain't a bad name either.

And of course, you are married, but you get to keep Twain because you're a star.

TWAIN: That's right. Well, that's the whole point.

KING: Well find out how she got to be a star, lots more to come with Shania Twain right after this.


KING: We're back with the number one recording artist, female recording artist ever, Shania Twain. How did you make it? What...

TWAIN: That's a loaded question.

KING: Well, what put you over the top? What -- was there a single record? What happened? Was your first record a hit?

TWAIN: My -- no. No. The first CD was not a hit. It was a ground-breaker in the sense that I -- I was discovered through that record. I was discovered by Mutt Lang.

KING: Did you get -- that record got played on the air? And did you get to...

TWAIN: Not much. A little bit. I was in the triple play promotion thing with two other artists, and one of those artists, Toby Keith, he carried on, left us two behind, and it wasn't until Mutt Lang heard about me that I actually got the opportunity to record my own music.

KING: Who would became your husband.

TWAIN: Who became my husband.

KING: How did he -- did he get that from Mutt and Jeff?

TWAIN: No, if you can believe it, my brother-in-law's name is Jeff. So when we're all together, it's quite...

KING: Where did he get the name Mutt?

TWAIN: It's a nickname from his childhood that just stuck.

KING: So the two of you, first it was a phone relationship, right?

TWAIN: It was. We met on the phone. And I had no idea who he was. He was just some producer guy trying to track me down, and I thought, well, why would a producer, anyone with any real credibility be trying to track me down? I'm nobody.

KING: Had he heard the first album?

TWAIN: He had, and he was a big fan of country music. I mean, he still is. He was a big Randy Travis, Tammy Wynette, Vince Gill. Loves the steel guitar. So anyway, he was onto the whole country scene, and he was, you know, very sharp in keeping up with whatever -- everything new that was coming out of country music and out of Nashville. He just thought it was a bit peculiar, this girl with this, you know, from Canada. He just thought it was an interesting story, and it wasn't the typical country story. Yet he was very interested...

KING: So how long did this phone thing go on?

TWAIN: Went on for several weeks before we met in person. We fell in love over the phone, although not -- we fell in love as friends. I mean, I can't say I was in love with this guy right off the bat. It was -- there was a depth there and I didn't...

KING: Well, you didn't have the physical attraction, because you didn't see him, right?

TWAIN: No, no, it was nothing like that at all. We were just very creatively compatible. The guy's a genius, and it was pretty easy to see that. And I was just taken in...

KING: What happened when you met?

TWAIN: Well, we were instant -- instantly close. Again, platonic. And -- but it was pretty clear pretty quickly that we needed to write songs together, we needed to write music together.

Over the phone, before we even met in person, he had -- he asked me to sing some of my songs to him over the phone, so I propped the phone up on the pillow, got out the guitar and did the whole -- it was -- it's just, I don't know, it's a beautiful story. We always reminisce and, you know.

KING: When did it turn to love-love?

TWAIN: A couple of months after we started writing, and close to the end of our writing, actually, because it took us about five weeks in total to write "The Woman in Me," which would be my first really big album.

KING: Do you still write together?

TWAIN: Of course, yeah, all the time.

KING: That's the theme. Who writes what?

TWAIN: It depends. He's more on the music side. Of course, he's a producer. So he writes a lot of the riffs, and a lot of the chord progressions and stuff. He's very great at structuring the song. KING: You do the lyrics?

TWAIN: I do a lot of the lyrics. I would say that we do everything -- we do a bit of everything. It's just that I probably direct take the lead in the lyrics, because I like to come up with -- first of all, he wants that anyway, because he wants the song to reflect whatever artist he's working with. He likes to work with artists who write for that reason.

KING: He works with others?

TWAIN: Yeah, he's done -- well, before he met me, he's had a huge career with Def Leppard and AC/DC and Brian Adams.

KING: Does he still work with others?

TWAIN: He does. He's done stuff with Celine and the Corrs, yeah.

KING: Is it -- are there downsides to working with your husband?

TWAIN: There is a downside. Because it's a bit more difficult to escape work when you really need to get away from it.

KING: You're having dinner, you're talking about what you're recording tomorrow.

TWAIN: It's true, and sometimes I just don't feel like writing. And he's, you know, he's...

KING: He's a go-getter?

TWAIN: He's a go-getter, and so am I, but I'm a girl. I want romance. You know? I don't know, I guess I'm just like any other woman, but songwriting isn't as romantic as I think people think it is. You know, it's...

KING: It's a labor.

TWAIN: It's -- you know, you could -- you really have to think. You've got to think. You've got -- being creative, of course, is fun. It's a pleasure, but you also have to come up with something clever and something -- you're not just doing this for -- it's not just a self-indulgence of creativity. You have got to create something that other people are going to like and relate to.

KING: I know many songwriters. I have great admiration for lyricists.

TWAIN: It's a difficult thing to do when you're trying to create something that other people relate to. So anyway, as a team, you know, we...

KING: Now, what was the first hit?

TWAIN: The first hit was the first single we released on "The Woman in Me," which was "Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?"

It was very country.

KING: "Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?"

TWAIN: Yes, isn't that a mouthful? It was a good hit for me, but it was the second song that was even bigger, which was called "Any Man of Mine." You know, no amazing title or anything, but the song -- I think the biggest attraction to that song was the production. It was so much, so rock, and I don't know, something really special about that.

KING: Is it the same company that recorded the second that did the first?


KING: They stayed with you?

TWAIN: That's right. Mercury.

KING: We'll be right back with Shania Twain. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with the terrific Shania Twain, quite a talent.

Is it true that some in Nashville didn't like that you used music videos a lot? And if so, why would they care?

TWAIN: Right. Well, there's a lot -- I didn't really fit in Nashville anyway right from the very beginning.

KING: Because?

TWAIN: Because I didn't have the right image in mind. First of all, this is Northern Ontario, Canadian girl who has no idea what a true cowboy boot is or what the appropriate jeanwear is or, you know -- and there's a real culture, there's a real image to that in America that I didn't, I didn't realize. And so I -- there was a lot of things about my image that weren't accepted, you know. I was...

KING: Uncomfortable?

TWAIN: I was unusual for them, I think. And so -- I didn't want to be something I wasn't. So I wasn't about to go into the whole cowboy hot cowgirl image, because that wasn't what I was.

So anyway, I didn't conform. I was very lucky to have a record label that supported that.

KING: Why wouldn't they like videos?

TWAIN: They didn't like my image in the videos. So that's why I went into all of that.

KING: How would you describe that image?

TWAIN: I think I was just more of a pop image. It was more of a pop image. It was definitely more liberal, more open, sexier.

KING: Bare midriff.

TWAIN: Bare midriffs.

KING: Country people don't do that.

TWAIN: Well, they didn't. They do now. They do now and -- yes. So, I think it was a bit unconventional. Even the way I went about the song writing and the sound of my records, all of that.

KING: Are you, though, as with other country stars, very easy with the fans, that is, accessible?


KING: Of all the elements of music, the country artist is the most fan-accessible.

TWAIN: Yes, that's true. I mean, I don't know. I can't speak for other genres, but I am around a lot of country artists, because they do fan-oriented things.

KING: Fan fests and...

TWAIN: That's right. Fan fair and everything like that.

So yes, they're very accessible, friendly. And I'm totally comfortable with that. I'm used to club performance, so it's normal for me to have fans right there. And so yes, I enjoy it.

KING: Now the fascination of writing a hit song.

TWAIN: Um-hum.

KING: Country song. What is it that you -- you can't bottle it, right? There's no formula.


KING: What are we looking for?

TWAIN: I like to write -- I just want to write songs that people can relate to on an everyday basis.

KING: So, you don't label them.

TWAIN: A sense of humor. No, I just write a song. I'm not sitting there to write a country song.

KING: Have you written pop songs?

TWAIN: Well, I've had songs that have crossed over. I mean "Man, I Feel Like A Woman" was the biggest crossover song for me. That is just a song that has a great sense of humor, a lot of people have caught onto that song for various reasons.


KING: Have you worked Vegas?

TWAIN: No. I've done concerts in Vegas, but I've never worked Vegas.

KING: Never worked the Hilton?

TWAIN: No, I've never done a stretch in Vegas.

KING: Would you want to?

TWAIN: I don't know. I'm not so sure. I don't know if it's versatile enough for me. I like to move around when I'm touring. I mean, I don't -- it's never anything I've given much thought to.

KING: How important in a country song is the music?

TWAIN: Oh, well, it's very important.

KING: I mean, as opposed to the lyric.

TWAIN: Well, like any genre, it could be the music that drives the song. It could be the lyric that drives the song. It could be either/or. You got a way with me every country listener wants a great groove and a great sound they can relate to. The same way any pop or rock song would be. It's no different in that regard.

People are people no matter what genre of music they listen to. They're you will looking for the same thing. They're all looking to be entertained. They all want to hear a great story. They want to hear something that turns their head. They all want to hear something that makes them want to rewind. So it doesn't matter what the genre is.

And when I'm writing a song, those are the things I'm thinking about. Does that make me -- you know, if I say that to somebody today, do they do a double take? Then I know I'm onto something good and fun and entertaining.

KING: That's what you have to do, you have to tell the story well.

TWAIN: You do. You have to -- you have to hold people's attention. We play up a large role in presenting the music, presenting the story, presenting the show.

KING: You're an actress.

TWAIN: In a sense we are, of course. And we're playing ourselves.

KING: And you're selling.

TWAIN: We're selling.

KING: We'll be right back with Shania Twain. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Shania Twain. You and Mutt have a son, with an unusual name, too. Right?

TWAIN: Yeah...

KING: What's his name?

TWAIN: His name's Eja.

KING: Spell it.

TWAIN: E-j-a.

KING: Where'd that come from?

TWAIN: Ah, just creative people, something we made up.

KING: Eja.


KING: So he never runs into himself, he never sees little license plates with his name on it, right, in the store?


KING: How old is he now?

TWAIN: He's three and a half.

KING: Is that tough, raising a child and singing?

TWAIN: It is, because it's not long ago that I just got off an 18-month tour.

KING: You take him with you?

TWAIN: So for his whole second year -- yeah, on the bus, load him up.

KING: Does he like that his mom performs?

TWAIN: You know, he doesn't really grasp onto it. He -- you know, we didn't let him see ever see a full show. We don't want him to get caught up in the whole frenzy. I don't want him to have this perception of, you know, this worship that happens that comes with celebrity. I don't want him to have that perception.

KING: You want to make him normal. TWAIN: Oh, completely.

KING: In an abnormal sense. You're in a -- you're not in a normal world.

TWAIN: We're not a normal -- no, we're not in a normal situation. We -- he's not a backstage kid. I'd rather him be at the park playing, even though I don't see him as often that way, than for him to be at my side amongst all the craziness of show business. It's just not worth it. And these are very delicate years, you know, up -- these first few new, brand new years, his brand new fresh brain, I don't want to engrave all of this craziness in his mind.

KING: Good thinking. Why does Mutt never do interviews?

TWAIN: Because he doesn't want to be a star, and...

KING: And he doesn't want to talk about record production and music and...

TWAIN: You know, he doesn't...

KING: ... the thing he does?

TWAIN: He doesn't feel like he has anything to contribute by talking about it, because it's nothing he can explain in words. People like Mutt are not the professors of music; they're the creators of music, so they don't study and explain. They do. And I'm speaking for him now, I don't know what he would really say himself.

KING: Well, he won't speak for himself, so.

TWAIN: He won't speak for himself, yeah.

KING: Might as well.

TWAIN: He's a very humble guy. He doesn't have to be famous to make a living, and that's my catch in my career, for me to reach a certain level of success, fame comes with it. That's all there is to it.

KING: He doesn't even like his picture in the paper, right?


KING: So he has an aversion to being paid attention to?

TWAIN: Yeah. A genuine one, though. He's not a freak about it at all. He doesn't hide from the public. He's a lot more sociable than I am. He's got a lot more friends than I do, and he's just a real active guy. He's much more interested in talking about politics than he is about music.

KING: Has your looks ever gotten in the way? By that I mean, sometimes when someone is really pretty, people don't take them seriously. TWAIN: Yeah, oh, it's very true. It's completely true. In fact, I've run up against it many, many times. Even when I was still singing in bars before I had any success, you're still dealing with the male factor, and you -- I don't know, when a guy gets up there and shakes his booty, he's not exploiting himself, but when a girl gets up there and shakes her booty, she's exploiting herself, and she's exploiting the whole female race or...

KING: So they are looking at you, maybe not listening, more looking?

TWAIN: Of course, and it's a delicate balance. I'm not really sure if I've figured it out yet, but I feel like I'm finally getting the respect that, you know, hit songwriting should get, or successful songwriting, and a successful career should get. You know, how much or what that is, I don't really know, but I sense that I'm getting some of that, which is really great, because for quite a while I didn't feel like I was getting it.

KING: You only record your own?


KING: Won't sing anybody else's?

TWAIN: I will, I will at some point, but I've felt up to now that I needed to prove a point, and that I needed to -- because I think, well, I don't know, this is just something in the back of my mind. You know, if I had recorded someone else's song along the way in these last 12 years, and it had been a big smash hit, then I think I would have defeated the purpose of proving the fact that I can write my own hits. So I've stayed away from that.

KING: But you can do both, can't you?

TWAIN: Well, now, I can. Now I feel like I can. I feel like...

KING: So if you saw a song you loved, written by Phil Burns (ph), you would do it?

TWAIN: Yeah, I would. But then there's the Mutt factor, because...

KING: Mutt wouldn't do it?

TWAIN: Well, he feels kind of the same way that I do in his own right, that he really only likes producing songs that he's written. It's a whole complete thing. It's kind of like an artist painting something, and then saying, leaving someone else to frame it. You're going to be pretty picky if you're the artist about how it's framed, how it's lit, where it's hung, you know, all of that.

KING: But if you saw something you really liked?

TWAIN: Yes. No, I wouldn't avoid it anymore now is what I'm saying. I think I would, and I'm up to doing covers and stuff like that. And I kind of get a bit giddy when I think about covering other material, because it's been so long. Yes, there was a time when I was in clubs where I was dying to do my own stuff, and I got so sick of, you know, copying other records and top 40 stuff, and now I wouldn't mind, you know, doing it.

KING: Have there been songs over the years where you say, wish I'd have sung that?

TWAIN: No, but there are...

KING: Really?

TWAIN: ... there are many songs over the years that I've said, I wish I'd written that. Not that I would say I wish I had sung -- I don't really rate myself that highly as a singer. I know Mutt's going to kill me for saying all this.

KING: You don't think you're a great singer?

TWAIN: No, I don't think I'm a great singer at all. I think I'm a stylist, I have a thing, I guess. Mutt loves my voice. He's a total fan of my voice. So, you know, he encourages...

KING: He discovered you as a voice, he didn't discover you as a face.

TWAIN: That's right, that's right. He loves my voice. He really, genuinely loves it. He loves it. He loves listening to me sing.


KING: What's a great song you would have loved to have written?

TWAIN: OK, "Bridge Over Troubled Waters."

KING: That's not a country song.

TWAIN: No. No.

KING: But it's a great song.

TWAIN: Yeah. Many times I wish I had written "Take This Job and Shove It." Because sometimes my career felt like a job. But...

KING: That's a great song, though, "Take This Job and Shove It."

TWAIN: Isn't that great? It speaks for the people. It says a lot. It's so simple.

KING: Talks to the masses.

TWAIN: It does. But that's what country is great for. You get to the point, you get to hard core point. It's less politically correct than a lot of -- it has been anyway, it's gone through times of being less politically correct, and like a lot of things Tammy Wynette did and stuff like that. And lots of (INAUDIBLE).

KING: Is there envy in the country world over commercial success? I remember years ago interviewing Eddie Arnold, and a lot of people didn't like Eddie Arnold, because he crossed over and he sold a lot of records.

TWAIN: Sure.

KING: Does that still exist?

TWAIN: Yeah, it does. Of course, it does. People are very competitive. I, personally, wanted the diversity, because I'm a versatile artist, and I wouldn't want to be in just one genre.

KING: Shania Twain is our guest. Back after this.


KING: We're back with Shania Twain, the top-selling female recording artist of all-time. Now why does a native Canadian girl from the wilds of Canada, recording in Nashville, live in Switzerland?

TWAIN: Oh, good. Well, Switzerland doesn't look all that different from parts of Canada. It's very beautiful -- winters, I love the snow.

KING: Why not Canada?

TWAIN: Why not Canada? That's a good question, but you know, I needed space and privacy.

KING: How'd you find this place? You're in a castle, right?

TWAIN: Yes. Well, it's a mansion. I mean, it's not a castle.

KING: How many rooms?

TWAIN: It's a chateau but that giant place is a castle so everybody thinks it's a castle. I don't really know how many -- around 20, but that includes bathrooms.

KING: Three people need 20 rooms?

TWAIN: No, we don't need 20 rooms, at all. It's way bigger than what we wanted, but I needed space for my horses -- they don't live in the house, but I needed a property that had space for the horses.

KING: Now, how...

TWAIN: A lot of the bigger properties there are big homes.

KING: Isn't hard to live in Switzerland and tour in America, and record, and raise a child?

TWAIN: No, because I have an international career, which takes me everywhere anyway. So, it doesn't really matter where I live. KING: You're just as popular in Britain as you are in Germany?

TWAIN: That's right, I have to go to Germany and England.

KING: You tour everywhere, even in countries where they don't know the language.

TWAIN: Yes. That's true.

KING: So, you can entertain in Germany, 20,000 people who don't speak English.

TWAIN: That's right.

KING: What do you think they're getting?

TWAIN: The music. I think that when you are into an artist you learn what that song is about, anyway. I think, I'm guessing, I don't know.


KING: Do you ever reflect on looking at your castle in Switzerland with your horses, and your obvious riches, and think back to what was when you were a kid?

TWAIN: All the time. Sure.

KING: Yes, me, too. Every day.

TWAIN: All the time.

KING: A little pinching yourself?

TWAIN: Totally, except I don't really live -- I'm not really living like -- I'm not really lapping it up all the time.

KING: Well but you don't have wants -- materialistic wants, you don't have.

TWAIN: That's right. Those...

KING: You get them.

TWAIN: Those stresses have been removed from my life. That is a very -- I'm so grateful for that. Because I just couldn't live that way forever.

KING: So, you must think back to it.

TWAIN: I always do and I could live a simple life again in a heartbeat. I actually don't regret...

KING: You could?

TWAIN: No, I don't regret the simple life at all. I could -- you know I've just come back from New Zealand, living in a tiny little caravan for the last three months. I really -- you know no toilet, nothing.

I like the simple life. I like the rustic life. I could do it any time, and before I got my recording contract in Nashville, I moved in -- I had to sell my house and move into a little 12-by-12-foot cabin out in the bush, out of town, no toilet, no running water, no heat, no electricity, nothing.

And I lived out there by myself with my dog for several months, praying that my record contract would come through and it did. And of course, then I moved to Nashville.

KING: When you really hit it, what was the first extravagant thing you did?

TWAIN: When I first made it or like, first got money or whatever?

KING: Yes, I mean, was there a car you always wanted or a --

TWAIN: I'm not a very material person in that sense, no. There isn't anything. Oh, I bought my first horse, yes. Because horses are pretty expensive to keep.

KING: Yes, they are.

TWAIN: So that was my dream: To own a horse. And I finally got a horse. That's true.

KING: How are your siblings handling all of your success?

TWAIN: It's difficult for them because we're all -- it's difficult for all of us. We're all very normal, basic people. We come from very little, and I think that shames my family.

KING: How many boys? How many girls?

TWAIN: Two girls, two boys, and I think the contrast of where we are now to where we came from -- if you're a certain type of person, it can make you feel shameful of where you came from. I'm not, I'm totally proud of it, I don't care. It's like, it was really bad growing up and I wouldn't take any of it back. In fact, it's kept me grounded and it makes me feel even better about where I am, but it's been a difficult transition for my family and my friends.

It's not easy, because we come from...

KING: They're not in show business?

TWAIN: They're not in show business, at all. No.

KING: Are they fans?


KING: Are they proud of your success?

TWAIN: They're very proud of my success. But just to tell -- explain how difficult it's been: you know they went from carrying my demo tapes in their pocket and playing it to all of their friends, playing my music at parties and bragging about me -- this is before I got -- went anywhere at all -- to all of a sudden, pretending they don't know me half-the-time because, you know, it's more of a burden than anything. One of my sisters got stalked for while, for instance.

KING: How has fame affected you? People recognize you?

TWAIN: It's been hard on me, but I don't want to sound like a moaner. But if I'm going to answer the question as to how it's affected me, it's been difficult for me -- for my personality type.

KING: You wouldn't mind being not-recognized?

TWAIN: Not at all. No way. I never use my name. Other people can use my name, if they tell me, but I don't use my name to get a table or anything. I'd rather just not get in.

KING: Shania Twain is coming tonight at 8:00, please clear an opening for six?

TWAIN: Oh, no -- never, never. I would be embarrassed. Yes.

KING: Mutt wouldn't do that?

TWAIN: No way -- no.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Shania Twain.

Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Shania Twain. You've got a big birthday coming in August. How old?

TWAIN: 40.

KING: I got ties older than you. 40.


KING: Does that scare, you 40?

TWAIN: Not at all. No.

KING: Any more children?


KING: Happy with one?

TWAIN: Happy with one. We're a nice little trio. We're very happy.

KING: Sometimes being an only child can be difficult on a kid.

TWAIN: It can be difficult, I know that. But kids don't always like each other, so you have a second and then they argue and fight all the time.

KING: Now what is this -- I got upstairs in the office some weird looking thing from Procter & Gamble, a high tech, household air freshener called scent stories, a CD player of fragrances. What does that have to do with you?

TWAIN: Well, it's a cool-looking thing. It just looks like a CD player. It looks like you could put your music CD in there.

OK, well, I support a charity that helps to feed -- you know, more specifically through my concerts, hungry children. But Second Harvest -- it's through Second Harvest Food Bank. And Procter & Gamble, through this project, is donating $100,000 to Second Harvest. So this is my connection with Scent Stories.

KING: What does Second Harvest do?

TWAIN: Second Harvest is a food bank setup that feeds people which are hungry, which we have many here in America. So here in the U.S.

KING: You didn't do it in Canada?

TWAIN: Well, I do other things -- this goes everywhere. I'm a Canadian citizen, yes. And of course I raise money for both countries through concerts. But specifically, through Procter & Gamble, they're donating $100,000 which I thought was pretty great.

KING: Do you ever market products?

TWAIN: Revlon -- I did a Revlon campaign with "Man I Feel Like A Woman."


Again that was based around the music. So, I've never done anything independent of the music up to now. So we'll see what happens in the future. Who knows what I'm going to do.

KING: What do you want to do? All right, you record other people's songs.

TWAIN: Yeah. I'll probably do that at some point, yes.

KING: Are you always going to do concert tours?

TWAIN: Yes. I think I'll always tour. I enjoy that.

KING: Ever be on stage and not know what city you're in? TWAIN: All the time. Yes. Because wow, it's really hard month after month after month. I mean, there's never an entire show that I go through that I don't know where I am. But there are moments where I forget where I am, that kind of thing. There are moments when I go blank a little bit.

KING: Is it still a kick?


TWAIN: It is a kick.

KING: When you walk out.

TWAIN: It is. But you know, when you say how has it affected you, there was a period where it was really, really difficult, I was being really, really hard on myself, being a real perfectionist, got up on stage and thought, what are you people clapping for? I'm not doing well tonight.

You know, because you know yourself. I'm not singing all that well. I'm not doing well. Why are you -- and nobody notices, it seems. I mean, they must, but fans are so forgiving and they're so dedicated.

But I was in a weird phase and thought what are you clapping for? I'm not doing well. And it really got me down for awhile. But I came around and thought, you know, that's the beauty of all this, fans are special. They're not critics. And so I need to be grateful that these people are appreciating what I'm doing. And I'm giving -- I'm doing my best, even if my best isn't my best.

KING: The great violinist, Isaac Stern, told me once there are nights where he feel the worst he often gets the most public attention.

TWAIN: Well, you know, what -- and maybe there's some truth in that.

KING: Must be a reason for that.

TWAIN: Maybe it's because your emotions are coming out and you're -- you've got an extra adrenalin, because you're trying harder because just don't feel like you're quite getting there. And maybe there's some truth in that.

Anyway, I'm grateful that the fans were still clapping. I got to the point where I was grateful, again. And really feeling -- thinking wow, I'm actually really quite liking this, that these people are cheering me on and it just feels really good.

So yes, I look forward to doing that again.


KING: Are you very involved with how you look? TWAIN: I am very involved with how I look, yes. I mean, I'm not, not in a fashion sense, because I'm not really good at that.

KING: Would you always want to work at being pretty? Would you always want to work at that? Would you be a Botox girl?

TWAIN: Botox is the one that numbs you.

KING: Right. And you look like you're...

TWAIN: No, no, no. I've never done any of that. I don't think I will. I mean, Mutt's older than me. That makes it a bit easier. So, he'll always be older than me and make me feel a bit younger sometimes.

No, I'm not really into that. I'm not -- I mean, I'm into the vanity thing, whether I was famous or not, I admit that I would be vain enough to worry about leaving the house without makeup. But that's got nothing to do with fame.

KING: Your eyes are green. Kind of green?

TWAIN: They're dark green, yes.

KING: Dark, beautiful. It's all you. You're a great guest, too.

TWAIN: Thanks.

KING: Shania Twain. Going to make it, I predict.

Thanks for joining us. I'll be back in a couple minutes.



KING: Thanks for joining on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE, an hour with the terrific Shania Twain. Stay tuned for the terrific Aaron Brown and NEWSNIGHT. See you again tomorrow night. Good night.


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