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Encore Presentation: Interview With Wynonna Judd

Aired November 8, 2003 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Wynonna Judd. The country superstar is back after making it through some rocky years -- divorce, the death of a father she never knew, attention deficit disorder, weight problems, and the burden of being a Judd. We'll cover it all in a candid hour with the one, the only Wynonna next on LARRY KING LIVE.
What a great pleasure to welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE -- I believe it's her -- this is the fifth time she's been a guest on this program. Wynonna Judd hasn't been here in a couple of years, over a couple of years. The country music mega-star first is a half of a mother-daughter team, the Judds, and a platinum-selling solo act. Her new CD, "What the World Needs Now Is Love," debuted only at No. 1 on the "Billboard" album country charts.

Do you do that song, "What the World Needs Now Is Love"?


KING: Yes? That's not a country song, though.

JUDD: It is. It's a different -- it's "What the World Needs Now Is Love," without the "sweet."

KING: Wait a minute. It's not...

JUDD: You're thinking -- you're thinking the Burt Bachrach...

KING: ... (SINGING) What the world needs now...

JUDD: Oh, sing to me, Larry!

KING: ... (SINGING) -- is love -- Give me your version.

JUDD: It's (SINGING) What the world needs now is love, love and only love -- It's a different...

KING: Oh, different song.

JUDD: Yes.

KING: Tell me about this -- are you shocked that it's No. 1 on the day it's out?

JUDD: I'm always shocked, at this point on, because music is changing so rapidly, and so much of music today bypasses the heart and goes for the libido.

KING: Really?

JUDD: Don't you think?

KING: I don't -- I don't get to hear a lot of what -- you know, I don't...

JUDD: Well, you're into Nickelodeon, probably.

KING: I don't know the -- I'm into Sinatra, Mel Torme.

JUDD: Oh, that's right. We've talked about that.

KING: Yes.

JUDD: I love music that is from the heart, and so -- I think so because my music does have a very autobiographical tone to it, and I wonder sometimes are people going to resonate to what it is I'm saying.

KING: Talk about a lot of things, but first, since we're talking about that, what do you make of all this downloading and people grabbing records for free and industry in trouble?

JUDD: Yes. I think people don't understand that we make our living doing this. They see us and they think, well, we have all the money. What's one song? Well, you add up a million people, and that's songwriters' families, you know, not getting their check. And so...

KING: I had a guy told me today the one business he would never go into is the record business today.

JUDD: OK. Yes.

KING: What do you make of that?

JUDD: At this point, I have to admit, it's about the music and the people. And I mean that with all heart because you're right, at this point, the business -- you know, I don't even read reviews anymore or pay attention to the worldly stuff because it's kind of up and down and all around. Depends on every week, you know? It's...

KING: All right, lots of things to talk about. How's life for you now? I mean, because there have been ups and downs in the Wynonna story. Are we up or down or what?

JUDD: You've read the book, seen the movie. It's good, Larry. I feel like I'm -- I'm back. I'm better, not bitter for the things I've been through. You know, you have a choice. And I think it's made me stronger. My kids keep me going, as you know how that goes. Whether you like it or not, you got to get up every day.

KING: What sent you down?

JUDD: Well, divorce and my father's death. I never met him. And it all happened within a year-and-a-half, two-year period of time, the four things, Death, divorce, career change and moving. I sold my farm.

KING: How long ago was this?

JUDD: Oh, a couple of years ago. I guess the divorce, it's been three years now...

KING: So you...

JUDD: Four years.

KING: ... kind of took a pass for a while?

JUDD: I took -- I went into the wilderness, they call it. You know, when you go into that wilderness time, when it's just you and God and you're sort of sitting there going, OK, what am I going to do with all this?

KING: Didn't sing?

JUDD: No, I didn't. Well, I take that back. I did and I didn't. I took some time off just to be. Imagine, in this business, just being a human being. And I took some time. And then I went in the studio and did what I do, just like you do. You come to work every day because you love it and it's your passion. And that studio was my womb, and I was reborn. I felt like when I came out of that studio -- this record took me three years.

KING: What?

JUDD: Yes. Three years. It almost killed me mentally.

KING: Why?

JUDD: Because it's hard to find songs. I wasn't getting a lot of the good songs, you know, that are passed around Nashville because I hadn't had a hit in a while. And people were, like, Well, what's she going to do? You know, Who is she? Is she still the Harley- riding chick, tough girl, or is she, you know, the balladeer? What is she? And I had to go door to door to all these publishers and say, Hi, I'm Wynonna. I'm not the 18-year-old Judd singer. I'm not the solo artist in 1992. I'm 2003, and this is where I'm at, and I've changed. So give me something different.

KING: What's your judgment value when you listen to a song? In other words, what does it have to do to you to say, I want to put this in?

JUDD: Well, when you met Shawn (ph), there's a spark, right? There's that spark. Sometimes it's physical. Sometimes it's spiritual. For me, it can be both at the same time. It's like an attraction. It's something resonates within you.

KING: Chemistry.

JUDD: You vibrate. Yes. And you just sort of go, Oh, my gosh. And yes, when the song does that, and by the chorus, you're, like, Wow, and the hair on your, you know, neck stands up.

KING: And it took three years to find, what, 12 songs?

JUDD: Yes. It took every breath I had every day. People think it's easy. It's not easy. It's harder now than ever to survive in this business. You know how it is. It's getting tougher. People are harder critically, and I think it's just -- it's been 19 years for me.

KING: You're not young anymore, and they want young, right?

JUDD: I'm a mid. I'm not a beginner and I'm not an elder. So yes, I'm in the middle place. What is she going to be, you know? Who is she?

KING: You still close with your mom?

JUDD: Very. Too close, actually.

KING: What do you mean?

JUDD: So close sometimes that it's painful, you know? It's like that thing that she knows my thoughts. She'll call me and say, OK, what's wrong? You know, that kind of thing.

KING: Really? Is she still singing?

JUDD: She's on the record. There's one song. And I'm sure there'll be an event. You know us Judd girls. You can't get rid of us.

KING: But she doesn't tour anymore (UNINTELLIGIBLE) does she?

JUDD: Not yet. She's got her party dress ready, though. I promise you.

KING: She still writing and doing her things and...

JUDD: She has a book coming out in January, and she's got a new beauty product thing happening right now. She's the infomercial queen.

KING: Do you live near each other?

JUDD: Four miles.

KING: How about Ashley and you.

JUDD: Now, why'd you laugh?

KING: Because, you know, it's just -- you got a mother thing here, obviously.

JUDD: And a sister thing. We're all three together.

KING: Yes. Is Ashley in your -- are Ashley and you close? Because she's a Hollywood star now. JUDD: Yes. She's doing Broadway.

KING: She went a different route.

JUDD: Go see Ashley on Broadway. She's doing "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" right now.

KING: Amazing.

JUDD: Yes, she opens November the 2nd.

KING: She can handle that role?

JUDD: We'll see. I believe in Ashley more than anybody because she's got -- well, I don't have to tell you. I mean, she's got the gift and she's got the spirit. And I'm really excited for her because this is live. She gets an audience every night, like I do.

KING: Yes, boy. And that's -- but she's a terrific actress. And she...

JUDD: She is.

KING: This is Tennessee Williams, though. This ain't no (UNINTELLIGIBLE) around the park, you know.

JUDD: And she's got a huge, huge responsibility for six months.

KING: Has there been a disadvantage to being a Judd?

JUDD: Yes.

KING: And it is?

JUDD: People assuming that -- because of the press, you know, the media, that all these years I was misunderstood because I -- well, I had, like, ADHD. When I was 18 years old, it was hard to keep me still. You know, I had to go to media (ph) training.

KING: Attention deficit...

JUDD: Yes. I had to go to media training to learn how to sit still. And I was so creative and so emotional that everyone sort of pegged me. You know, Bless her heart. She's just emotional, you know? And I just -- and I'm very spiritual, in that I was always trying -- I felt like a misfit, and I think the Judd thing, people assumed a lot, and I wasn't understood at times. You know, if I was feeling low or...

KING: You're a Judd. A Judd can't have...

JUDD: ... emotional...

KING: ... a problem, right?

JUDD: Exactly. The Judds are strong. They can do anything. There was this stamp on me that I could, you know, be this famous, you know, woman and have it all. And the fact was, I've been supporting 40 families since I was 18 years old.

KING: Back with more of the incredible Wynonna. Don't have to say the last name anymore, do you. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Wynonna Judd. Her new album, "What the World Needs Now Is Love," is on the "Billboard" album country charts, only at No. 1. Are you concertizing again? Are you out touring?

JUDD: I am working it like I've never worked it before. I just...

KING: A city a night?

JUDD: I mean, we're doing a show, getting on the bus, riding 8 and 10 hours, doing a show, 40, 50 people, meet-and-greets before the show, signing autographs afterwards. It's a love affair with the fans once again.

KING: We'll get to that later. What do you mean by supporting 40 families?

JUDD: Well, I just mean that I've been a corporation since I was 18.

KING: Oh. And they all work for you, and they...

JUDD: Yes.

KING: ... need you to be strong or they don't eat.

JUDD: Right. If Wy don't work, people don't eat, is the motto.


JUDD: So in other words, I've never really -- until the last couple of years, until I had Elijah (ph) -- he brought me home to myself. You know us women. We get really carried away with...

KING: Explain who Elijah is.

JUDD: Well, Elijah's my firstborn. And I really am like a lot of women out there. I took care of everybody but myself, and I forgot myself an awful lot because I was so busy doing -- you know, I forgot to put myself on the list, like a lot of parents do. You know, I'm a single parent. Though I have a nanny, she goes home and I'm there by myself with the kids. And then I've got to, you know, do the -- I don't think people have an idea. They think, at this point, this level, that you don't have any problems or that you don't have pressures or worries. They assume.

And it's been really tough to try to let people know that it's been a struggle -- because my mom raised me to believe in myself. However, I don't know that I did for the longest time. It's only probably been in the last three years that I've actually -- I wake up and I go, yes, I'm worthy of my success because it happened at 18, and I never really felt like I earned it. You know, I didn't go to college and earn a degree or anything. I just woke up one day and our song was No. 1 on the charts and we were winning Grammys, and I had won the lottery.

KING: Yes.

JUDD: And it took me a long time to grow into my success and really believe that I had deserved it.

KING: You have a great boyfriend, though, don't you now?

JUDD: Yes. He's been there for 12 years, and I didn't know it.

KING: He worked with you, right?

JUDD: Yes. He was...

KING: And you didn't know...

JUDD: ... my bodyguard.

KING: ... you were in love with him.

JUDD: No, I didn't. And I found out because of a visit with a friend who was dying. And I got to see the spiritual person, not just the worker in a suit. And I fell in love with him because he's been there for 12 years, the ups and the downs and...

KING: He was your bodyguard, just like the Whitney Houston movie.


KING: You live other people's lives. You ever think of that, Wynonna? Get your own life, OK?


KING: Sheesh!

JUDD: I know! I'm making my own movie.

KING: All right. Let's discuss what attention deficit disorder is like.

JUDD: Let's talk about me!

KING: Yes.

JUDD: It's just...

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Enough about me. Let's talk about you. What do you think of me? JUDD: I think you're swell!

KING: Oh, stop!

JUDD: I think it's a thing where you're just so creative and it's hard to contain me because I am so spontaneous and free-spirited. My mom and Ashley are, like, left and right brain. I'm so right brain. It's hard for me to do business. You know, you're a businessman, right? You...


JUDD: Do you read that stuff, or do you pay attention?


JUDD: I am just so right brain. It's been really hard for me to focus because being creative -- when I'm talking and I close my eyes, I get visuals. I see colors. I see the whole video, you know? I'm just so creative and so it's hard for me to sit still. And I've worked at it.

KING: The down side of that is?

JUDD: Well, when you're in a business meeting and you're going to a situation with an agent or something and -- they think that you're not interested. And I also have performer's anxiety. And people would walk up to me and shake my hand, and I'd look away and I'd being doing this. And they thought, Well, what a snot. But the fact was, I was so scared about getting ready to go and perform, I wasn't paying attention to them because I was scattered, you know?

KING: Sinatra said, sitting at this camera on this table, that he still, right to the end, had a little pang of, Will it be there?

JUDD: It's the unknown. It's the unknown. Am I going to open my mouth and is that note going to be there? It's terrifying.

KING: Still hits you. And you're doing a concert one night in Topeka.

JUDD: Yes. And I just -- and it's the fear of the moment of stepping off. It's like when you bungee-jump or you -- it's like that -- you have to push yourself to get out there. Speaking in front of people? Forget about it. I'd rather go to the gynecologist.

KING: Really?

JUDD: Yes. Forget it! And they're trying to get me to speak in front of people, and the only way I can do it is if they put people in the audience that I know. I do breathing exercises. It's a very real thing, and I don't think people...

KING: Do you take medication?

JUDD: Not for that, but for my ADD I do. KING: You do take it for ADD.

JUDD: Yes. I take a homeopathic dose and...

KING: Oh, really?

JUDD: ... so that I don't hear 1,000 thoughts. I can now hear 20.

KING: That's scary, to have all those things going on at once, isn't it? Isn't it scary?

JUDD: It is scary, but we're all that way a little bit. We're all kind of crazy, don't you think?

KING: Yes, well, who's normal? What is normal?

JUDD: Yes, what is normal? That's just a cycle on the washing machine.

KING: When did you know you could sing?

JUDD: Well, everybody tells me, of course, 3. I thought around 9 because we lived on a mountaintop in Kentucky with no TV or telephone. What the heck am I going to do? And I started listening to big band music and blue grass. My grandparents had Sinatra and all that...

KING: So you liked all that?

JUDD: Oh, I still -- as a matter of fact, I want to do a record some day...

KING: Oh, like...

JUDD: Orchestra? Give it to me.

KING: Like Linda Ronstadt did?

JUDD: Give it to me. Yes. Orchestra music. You know what it is, I think? I'm such a romantic at heart, and I'm such a dreamer, it's hard for me to think outside of that because I -- when I hear -- like, when you hear those songs, don't you feel the passion?

KING: Sure.

JUDD: I mean, how can you not? It's just -- and music today, it's frustrating to me because it's hard to know who's who. And what the heck are they saying? I get lost in the music sometimes. Don't you? You're listening and you forget.

KING: Did Ashley sing?

JUDD: Uh-huh.

KING: Was she good? JUDD: She's good. She's a better actress, and I'm a better singer than a better actress. We have our gifts. But we're trying different things because it's, like, What the heck, man? We've already, you know, won the lottery. Can we push it again, so...

KING: When did you know you wanted to sing for a living?

JUDD: I didn't. It was too late.


KING: You mean, you just sort of...

JUDD: It happened. I didn't know. I didn't know. I think it's only been in the last 10 years where I've really started to get it because you don't get it until it's gone.

KING: We'll be back with Wynonna. "What the World Needs Now Is Love" is No. 1. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Wynonna Judd. Before we get back to things, I don't want to let it pass without asking your thoughts on the passing of Johnny Cash.

JUDD: We're losing our superstars. And he was a cornerstone. And it scares me because I think we're losing some of that legend stuff that we need. You know, I love the newcomers. We need the young. But we -- like, at the awards shows, when I don't see Johnny this time, it's going to be odd to me because he's like the grandfather. And I just...

KING: You ever sing with him?

JUDD: No. And I blew it. I was supposed to go visit with him and I didn't. I was on the road.

KING: Supposed to sing with him?

JUDD: I was going to go talk to him and just hang with him and sort of soak in some of his wisdom. He was a very, very -- besides being talented, a very spiritual man, as well as just -- when he spoke, it was like hearing somebody tell a story. He just had such a melodic...

KING: How was it determined that the Judds, mother and daughter, would be an act? How did that come about? There are not many mother- and-daughter acts.

JUDD: Well, I couldn't get away from her. I -- you know? I really couldn't. We...

KING: She's a control freak?

JUDD: Well, we were -- we didn't have any neighbors. We lived in the middle of nowhere. It was the three of us. And you know, we talk about this more than anything, about the times when we had nothing. We were forced to be with each other. We didn't have, you know, Nintendo, PlayStation. There was none of that back then.

KING: You were poor.

JUDD: Yes. We didn't have a telephone or TV, so we were forced to be together. And the three of us developed our gifts. I believe this, and that's why my kids -- I home school with my nanny, and we do it because it forces us to be together and conversations come about, ideas.

And my mother heard me sing, and she was probably going -- and we've talked about this, Whoa. Something's going on here. And the next thing I know, we're going to Austin and we're hanging out with, you know, Jimmy Vaughn (ph) and Stevie Ray (ph) and Asleep at the Wheel. Ray Benson (ph) gave me my name. Flagstaff, Arizona. Don't forget Wynonna. And next thing I know, I'm listening to music and she's, you know, falling behind me, waiting and watching, you know, for me to graduate from school. And the minute I did, we had a deal with RCA Records.

KING: From high school?

JUDD: Yes. I was 18. And we signed a live audition, and next thing I know, we're all over the place.

KING: And what, did Ashley go to Hollywood?

JUDD: She didn't do that until later. She went to live with Grandmother. And I think because of our singing, it kind of forced Ashley into her own gift because she was, unfortunately, at times, left behind. And that's been one of the hardest parts of a lot of this success thing is that we're apart, you know?

KING: How come you never knew your biological father?

JUDD: How can I say this? I think people were really worried about my finding out because I was so close to Ashley's father, who was my dad growing up.

KING: He raised you?

JUDD: His parents were the light of my world and still are.

KING: So Ashley's your stepsister.

JUDD: No. We're the same mother.

KING: Half-sister. Same mother.

JUDD: Yes.

KING: Half-sister.

JUDD: Yes. I hate that word. KING: "Step" is -- yes, "half" is...

JUDD: Yes. It's sort of, like -- you know what? She's it. That's all I got. And that's everything to me. And it brought us closer, actually, because we had to -- we looked at each other, and it was like...

KING: So he was the Judd?

JUDD: Yes. He -- my mom got pregnant, and he left town. And people were so worried about me. We got to -- we got to -- you know, it's that horrible secret thing. Don't ever do it, you know? The pain, you can get through that, but the truth will set you free. I was 30...

KING: So who was the Judd, Ashley's father or your father?

JUDD: No, no. Mine.


JUDD: Yes.

KING: But Ashley took the name Judd.

JUDD: Later in life. It's a complicated story. I'll write a book some day. But my mom dated a man named Charlie -- Charles Michael, and Ashley's dad is Michael Charles.

KING: Whoa!

JUDD: And the mothers' names are Mary. It's very strange. And he left town, and Dad acted as, you know, my dad growing up.

KING: When you -- since you didn't know him, why did it affect you so much when he passed on?

JUDD: Well, it spun me around. Half of me is somewhere else and...

KING: Were you always looking for him?

JUDD: Well, I found out at 30, but I waited. And I tell people this. Don't wait. Don't put things off. If you don't make decisions in life, life will make decisions for you.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) find your father.

JUDD: I knew where he was, and I was worried and scared that it would be too much for him. Imagine Wynonna Judd knocking on your door and going, Hey, you know, How're you doing?

KING: But he had to know about you.

JUDD: He did. And when he died, they found clippings in his drawer. And it was... KING: Of your career?

JUDD: Yes. I don't think he felt worthy. I think he was a simple man. Imagine that, a normal, simple man. And...

KING: How'd you mother take it?

JUDD: I think she was devastated the whole way through and has carried a lot of guilt. And I think it set us all free, in a way, when he left, but it started this whole thing of, Who am I? My biological stuff. You know, I've got kids, you know? What did he pass on to me? And who am I?

KING: How much did you like, initially, show business? How much did you like recording and going on the road and singing with your mother and getting famous?

JUDD: It terrified me, and I stayed for years traumatized by the success part. I struggled with all the stuff. Put me in a recording studio, I could be there for 10 hours and forget what day it was. The music kept me. The other stuff my mom loved, thank God. That's why we made a good team. I was the voice, and she took care of everything else. And it terrified me because I was 18 on stage in front of thousands of people and just freaked out about it. I don't think anyone will ever know what it's like until they've walked in my shoes to be the American dream success story that we were so fast.

KING: There's no -- you can't explain how big you were, right? I mean, you -- the two of you became enormous. I mean, I'm not kidding, right? You were...

JUDD: It's like...

KING: ... shot out of a cannon.

JUDD: It was. It was so intense. And all the time, it never stopped. And if it did, it was only for two or three days at a time, and then we'd go right back.

KING: In retrospect, too much too soon?

JUDD: Uh-huh. I worry about these -- you know, these young...

KING: One-night hit.

JUDD: ... kids. I do because I know it's not normal to be shoved in the limelight. You're not ready. And that's why I think today, you know, it's like we take so much for granted, but Mom and I were in the back seat of a car going to three and four radio stations a day. We did it the right way, in terms of building. The fans came with us. You know, we weren't separated from the fans. We were accessible. We were in airports. We played fairs. We were the Americana. I mean, George Bush, you know, would invite us to everything because he said we represented America...

KING: The father. JUDD: ... you know, and country music. And so it was intense, but...

KING: Right back with Wynonna Judd. Her album, "What the World Needs Now Is Love," her new CD, is No. 1 on the "Billboard" album country charts. She's out on tour again. She -- as we say, she's back. Don't go away.









KING: We're back with the incredible Wynonna Judd. I keep saying she's back. She never really went away. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) You kept selling records, right? I mean, your records were always in stores, always selling?

JUDD: I was always around.

KING: Always around.

JUDD: Country music has changed, and I think for a while country music and I parted ways. But I still toured.

Thank God for the fans. I couldn't have done it without them because they still bought tickets even though I wasn't charting. You know, there are a lot of people that do that, actually, who have -- but I have worked hard for it for 19 years. And these fans are now bringing their kids. It's pretty amazing.

And -- so I've -- I've earned it. I go to Vegas every year. You can count on me, you know, to be at these things every year. And I have worked really hard. And so I think the family relationship has endured even though the statistics haven't.

KING: Your voice has never deteriorated, has it?

JUDD: Not yet.

KING: You never went through a bad spell of singing. Never lost it for a time, never -- always able to sing?

JUDD: Yes.

KING: Always that safe place, right?

JUDD: Yes.

KING: OK. Why did you and your mom end the act?

JUDD: We had to, and it was because of her hepatitis C illness. And she was given a sentence.

KING: A sentence?

JUDD: Yes. And it was -- it was final. And it had to end. And so, she went home and...

KING: To die?

JUDD: Basically. I felt like that was what she was doing, because her whole life was about the music and the fans and being on the road.

You know, you should come on the tour bus with me sometime. It's pretty -- it's just -- you cannot get away from it. Once you've been on the road and once you've connected with people, and you get out on those lights and you forget everything, it's no wonder people do drugs and get in trouble. Because that high on stage -- you want to keep that forever. There's nothing like it. You plug into that energy source and when my mom lost that, I felt like she -- it was like retiring. They say when people retire, it cuts their life, you know, short.

KING: How did she live though? What did she do?

JUDD: She's well.

KING: I know.

JUDD: She's well. I really believe in modern day miracles and I saw it myself. And I have to say it increased my faith a tremendous amount, because I saw it happen. And she's -- you would never know she was sick. You would never know it. And a lot of people didn't really believe that she was because she worked still and she'd put on that beautiful smile. And that light would shine and people didn't believe she was ill.

KING: She had her own television show. I guested on it.

JUDD: Yes.

KING: Your mom did it.

JUDD: She's always doing something.

KING: She's always doing something.

JUDD: We can't get rid of her.

KING: What was it like the first time you were a solo? JUDD: I don't remember it.


JUDD: I think I blocked it out. It was so overwhelming. It was too soon for me.

KING: Was it in a recording studio or a concert?

JUDD: It was on the AMA Awards. Thanks a lot. I went out in front of everybody.

KING: Sang?

JUDD: All my peers. Yes, I sang "She's His Only Need," and my mother was sitting in the audience. No one will ever know.




JUDD: I never want to go through anything like that again because you're just not ready. I wasn't...

KING: You thought she was gone?

JUDD: I was mortified. But I guess it that's that spirit thing because I got through it and I still go, How did I get through that? The AMAs of all places. Why not some club in, you know -- why do this to me?

KING: Did you often have weight problems?

JUDD: Always have. Always have.

KING: Were you ever...

JUDD: Well, you know what? And I think my 20s -- I have unfortunately developed a love affair with it because when you're 18 years old and you go out on stage and you have joy and complete bliss, and then you go from that to a hotel room and you have your dog and nothing else -- you know, I can't go down and walk around. I can't go and -- you know, you're a little bit of a prisoner. And I would reward myself and I have had a lot of pain, and some people do alcohol.

Mine, unfortunately -- I mean, why couldn't I be, you know -- I think all the time, why couldn't it be something else? But it's all hell. It doesn't matter what your crutch is. And mine has been that I don't take time for myself and I don't pay attention. And I think some of it's that sort of self-loathing. I've been learning and studying about it. And I think a lot of it is you almost don't love yourself because you're not sure that, you know, you're worthy of it. And it's a bunch of crap. And I know it and I'm working on it. KING: So you eat.

JUDD: Yes. Yes. I would go back in the comfort foods. I'm a carbs addict. I mean, you had to lose your weight because of your heart, right? You know, it's almost like something has to happen to make you quit. And I've decided in the last year this is it. I'm going to be 40 next May. And I have a goal. And, we'll see.

KING: You want to be slim?

JUDD: I want to be healthy. I want my numbers to be good, you know? I want to get back to the original weight, yes -- 8 pounds, 15 ounces, but....

KING: I mean, does weight worry you? Does it scare you to be over...

JUDD: It scares -- it's because of my numbers, if they're not right.

KING: Cholesterol.

JUDD: Yes. You know how that works, right? You go through it, right?

KING: Of course.

JUDD: And I had...

KING: You got to be scared. I had to be scared. If I wasn't scared...

JUDD: Yes. You probably still -- like smoking. You got to almost have to have a cancer.

KING: Stopped the day of the heart attack.

JUDD: So there you go. I'm working on it. It's one of my -- it's like at the top of my list besides, you know, my faith and family is -- I will take care of myself today because I have so much to be thankful for, but success is a funny thing. It takes you away from yourself. It really does. It's hard to be connected.

KING: Like looking at yourself.

JUDD: Yes. It's hard to be connected with your soul when you're so busy doing all the physical stuff.

KING: The fabulous story of the Judds. Wynonna back at the top.

Don't go away.





KING: We're back with Wynonna Judd. Your first album, as a single, was a big hit, right?

JUDD: Yes. And I still think about it and go, man!

KING: Over 5 million, right?

JUDD: Well, we had the greatest campaign. Think about it, a yearlong good-bye, really set it up for me to be reborn. You know? The Judds are leaving. Everybody was aware.

KING: Good-bye Judds. But still had to be good.

JUDD: Every ending has a new beginning. The fans were interested in seeing, yes, could she do it? And I did. I sold -- at that time, I mean, girls sneeze 5 million records. At that time, 5 million was the most of any female artist at the time.

KING: How many total have you sold?

JUDD: I -- I don't know. I don't know. Billions. I don't know.

KING: What is it like to not have a need to worry about money?

JUDD: It gives me choices.

KING: Oh. Right. That's the one thing you have that the person without money doesn't have. It's not just that you can buy something you see in the store window?

JUDD: That is so -- I got rid of my credit cards. I'm on a mission. I had a yard sale. 5,000 people came to it right after my divorce. I got rid of everything. The post-divorce, I will be better, not bitter. And I sold everything. I lived off the cash for a year.

KING: My producer tells me you sold the marital bed?

JUDD: Yes. Thanks for that. Yes, thanks to remind me. I sold the bed and I -- Wynonna impersonator bought 20 pairs of shoes. I really liked him.

KING: You did it for financial need?

JUDD: I did to purge. You have to understand the way I think, Larry. You know me a little bit. I have quite a sense of humor. And it saved me so many times.

I don't want to carry this around. I want to get on with life. And I sold it. Sold the house. Put the money in the bank for the kids and started over. I live on a hill, renting, starting over. Getting ready to build again. KING: Why no credit cards? You can afford to pay them?

JUDD: Yes. You know why? I wanted to get more accountable about -- people don't touch the money. If I have $100 -- I guess it goes back to being poor and on welfare. I'm less likely to break it than a 5 or a 20. This is a game I play. And I if -- I have my guy gives me an allowance in 100s. I'm more likely to keep it than spend it.

So funny how I play a game with myself. Credit cards, I'll take two of each. It's just that whole thing of because I have had money and I've blown it in my 20s. I've blown two lifetimes.

KING: On what?

JUDD: People. You know? Wanting people to really -- hey, let's take ten people out of dinner. Not just two. And, employee of the day. You know? Here, here's my bus, take it. And through the divorce, of course, I lost my butt. But that's okay because I started over.

KING: You had to pay alimony?

JUDD: No. This is a settlement or whatever. You have to do it.

KING: He got more money than you did?

JUDD: Yes. He got 2 buffalo, too.

KING: Do you bear a grudge against him?

JUDD: No. And you know why? Elijah and Grace. And I can honestly say that.

KING: Does he see them?

JUDD: Yes. Elijah and Grace woke me up. You know how that works. It ain't about you. And, they are on that bus and they could care less about sold out No. 1. Who cares? Make me a snack. You know?

KING: How old are they now?

JUDD: You go home and they don't care who you talked to that day.

KING: How old are they?

JUDD: Elijah is 8 1/2 and Grace 7. I'm grateful every day for them. Everything that happens to you -- you know the fact is, I can't be the victim, because we bait and set our own traps. This is the thing of people saying poor me, poor me. I understand people's pain, I've been there. But we do this to ourselves. We really do.

And this whole victim mentality -- I don't want to be that. I want to be victorious. I turned something into good is a challenge for me. And my job now is, Elijah and Grace, to make them, you know, compassionate and respectable citizens and I pay more attention to that than he did this or he did that.

KING: Is their father a good father?

JUDD: No comment. I plead the fifth.

KING: What about faith? Are you a believer?

JUDD: Yes.

KING: Never doubted?

JUDD: Yes.

KING: What brings you back?

JUDD: Having been laying there in the fetal position, you know, no record. No tour. Just my heart beating and, hearing that small, quiet voice say, it's going to be okay.

KING: That brought your faith back?

JUDD: Yes. I have been pretty -- I've gotten everything down pretty small in the last couple of years. Sold my office and got a smaller office. Sold, you know, Harley. Have one Harley. Sold my truck. Have one car. And I got everything, you know, liquidated and I got really down to this one little area in my life to simplify, simplify.

And when I did all that and got rid of the stuff that me so, sort of spun around, supply and demand kind of thing. I have to work to keep it. When I got rid of that and started over, it made me realize that my greatest identity is not just being a chick singer. That I'm a child of God. And that kicked my butt.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with the extraordinary Wynonna Judd. Don't go away.





KING: We're back with our remaining moments with Ashley Judd 9 (sic). In the album, one of the songs...

JUDD: Ashley Judd. I'm Wynonna.


JUDD: Hey, it's all the same family.

KING: The read I said Ashley is one of the songs in the album is "Someone Like You," which is in Ashley's new movie, right?

JUDD: Yes. And I wrote it for her because she's my sweetie pie.

KING: And it's about her.

JUDD: Yes.

KING: "Someone Like You."

JUDD: It's called "You Are." And I was watching her movie and I'm blown away by her beauty. I mean, who isn't? And her talent, of course. But it occurred to me, while watching the movie, she's still my little sister.

KING: What movie was that?

JUDD: "Someone Like You."

KING: That was the name -- that was on older (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

JUDD: Yes.

KING: Now you also have a song "Flies on the Butter" on her new album. Lyrics like, Old tin roof/leaves in the gutter/hole in the screen door/big as your fist/ and flies in the butter.




KING: Who came up with "Flies on the Butter"? Did you write that?

JUDD: No. I wish. But the visual for me is going back to a place that you want once thrived -- or that once thrived and seeing it torn down and dilapidated and I recently had that experience and it broke my heart. You know, you can't go back in time.


JUDD: So, it's a song about that. You can dream about it every now and then, but you can't go back.

KING: What do we mean by sometimes I feel like Elvis?

JUDD: Have you ever experienced this where you're sitting there and this, you know, wonderful, big house and you have everything but nothing at all?

KING: Sure.

JUDD: Been there, done that. Pick me. You know, pity, party of one, your table is ready.

KING: Dinner for one, please?

JUDD: Yes. Yes. Exactly. So, I've been there and it's a song about how -- well, it's an idea that Elvis had everything but he didn't have someone, you know, that really loved him to say, Hey, you know, stop what you're doing. And, he had it all. And yet, he had that nothing, the love, that thing wasn't there. So it's a song about having all the stuff but not having -- the home is the heart. Otherwise it's just a structure, it's a house.

KING: Why does that happen to the Elvises, the Marilyn Monroes?

JUDD: Because people...

KING: From across the street, we think they have it all.

JUDD: Because people stop being truthful and people stop being accountable to you and they stop saying things that they want to say in fear of being fired or -- you have a lot of yes people around you. I mean, I'm sure Shawn's probably one of the few people that'll say, Now Larry, it's probably not a good idea.

KING: That's right. Soon as I hear "Now Larry..."

JUDD: Exactly. So it's kind of like who's going to tell you the truth and you become so successful, people buy into that belief system that you're special, that you're magical, that you're a being from another place.

And that's what cracks me up about this whole thing. If people only knew who I really am in terms of, you know, Elijah and Grace's mother (ph), wearing my hair in a ponytail and I could give a rat's butt about clothes that match when I'm not working and they think that, you know, the Judds girls walk around with this formula for success and that everything's just peachy, and they really buy into that. And we've done it here in America. It's all about youth and money. And sex, drugs and rock n roll and we really think that when you make it, that it is about all the shiny stuff.

KING: Do you ever wonder about where that incredible voice came from?

JUDD: Yes, I do.

KING: Because it is. There is no voice like your voice.

JUDD: Thank you.

KING: I mean, that gift.

JUDD: I know where it came from. There's absolutely no way you can go to school to learn this. And I'm just grateful every day. I was on stage last night singing "How Great Thou Art" and it came time for that "how great thou are" and I heard my voice and I heard in my voice in my earpiece and I was like -- it rattled me because I still kind of go, whoa. Where did that come from? Because it's so from another place. KING: Is life very good now? Is Wynonna Judd....

JUDD: It's so good...

KING: happy?

JUDD: So good. When I come back next year, we'll see. But I have to say, it's the best it's ever been and it has nothing to do with my career. I have worked so hard at finding out who I am off that stage, I know that I'm loved. I know that my music is from my soul. It's not manufactured in a board room meeting. People don't tell me, Hey, you have to do this or do that. I wake up every day instead of saying, Oh God, it's morning. I go, Good morning, God.

And I've gotten this way because of a lot of brokenness and I've made it.

KING: And you are a national treasure. Thank you.

JUDD: Thank you. And I love you, too.

KING: Wynonna Judd. The album "What The World Needs Now is Love."

I'll be back in a minute. Thanks for joining us. Don't go away.





KING: Thanks for joining us on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. back again tomorrow night. Stay tuned for "NEWSNIGHT WITH AARON BROWN."

For Wynonna Judd and yours truly, good night.


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