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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  September 6, 2013 12:00am-12:31am PDT

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tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley.tonight, a conversation with three of the founding members of the elements earth wind and fire. one of the most celebrated fans in the history of music and one of the most durable. it has been almost 40 years since their debut and they will release their first duty of our bum in eight years appropriately titled now, then, and forever. up rightation coming now.
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>> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. tavis: i was about to give you a long introduction to describe you, but i don't think anybody in the world needs that. the elements are here. ralph johnson on the end, philip bailey in the middle. theody and everybody knows
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whole band. i am delighted to have you on the show again. this long introduction said, for so many of us, you are the soundtrack to our lives, defining generations of listeners. does that make you feel older? >> not at all. it is just the way it turned out. when we started this thing in 1970 or 1971, we had no idea we would still be there. i always read liner notes. oftentimes i will pull stuff out and start reading as i am listening to the project. but i love these words on the inside. as we see today's technology uniting the world wide web, it
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seems the hearts of men are growing more distant from each other. i hope this musical continue to typecast to future. powerful words and inspiring words. >> that is quintessential maurice white from the lyrics to the philosophy to the intent. it being something more than just for ourselves. 41 years later, it is still fulfilling his dreams and aspirations because it was bigger than just himself. more than just reasons of getting bling-bling and accolades. fews: stevie wonder or a
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other artists i can name, that notion of humanity and service, the notion of love has been at the epicenter of the world. why love? need that we all have, it never grows old. somethingst so true, that as we love one another and teach each other, we are all fulfilled. we are fulfilling a need. he said people need to latin, theyazz and need to experience more depth in the music but in a commercial way. how do i do that? that. to change what do i do?
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we will be about this. that andill able to do it is almost like it is new. people influenced you when you started and you have influenced a bunch of other folks. how does it feel to be on the other end? >> now people come up and they thank us for making the music. they tell us where they were. because us feel good what maurice wanted to do was make music that everybody would love that would bring a lot of people together. he would always say, it is not about being famous or celebrity, but everybody conserved. even with the concerts we are
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and is a keeps us reminder for us, too. to the quotees from martin luther king junior that anybody can be great and anybody can serve. it just takes a soul generated by love. how is reese doing? >> he is funny as ever and doing well. he is proud of the cd. this is the first we have done without him and this whole process was at phillips home. tavis: i was about to ask what it was like. is not likeact go you haven't been doing nothing. >> we are in the enviable
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position where we don't need to do a new project. it is a real blessing. in terms of this project, i think the 20 years we have been doing this, it has taken that long to get the courage to do traditional lasix sounding earth wind and fire record. it has taken a lot of soul- searching, reminding one another. reminding us of the essentials that have to be there. neil, larry, jr from the l.a. area. we all collaborated on the to act to try to return classic sounding earth wind and
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fire record. tavis: does that mean maurice did not hear it when it was in process or offer commentary act trusted usetty much to handle it. >> there is the very heavy rhythmic base. the tie-in between the drums, the guitars, and the base. there are articulated warned lines. lines that you hear within the song. based.all very rhythmic- over the years, has the lyrical content changed? have the times forced the content to change?
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that stuff is as relevant now as it was 30 years ago. content?t lyrical we think about trayvon martin, the unrest all over the world. we are saying that we all have to see the good in one another. we have to live together and find a way for equality and motivate one another to a higher level of consciousness. it is still the same. it really is. the base know you're man, and i want to talk about the porn section. thean into tower of power other day celebrating 45 years and there are just a handful of bands out there that have these
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horn sections that make you move. is impossible to hear dance floor and stay still. let's talk about lawrence. >> -- about horns. horns really came from maurice from chicago. is no earth wind and fire record without horns. up and facing the horn lines. lines,jones, to the horn and that is a big part of the sound. he has such a recognizable sound, these are elements that people recognize before they hear the first verse. it was not only the joy, but the challenge of making this cd in
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2013. that nobody is doing it, what makes the band think that warns matter today? today?s matter they add the extra harmonic to what you're doing, to the overtone. people have always been enamored with horn bands. i am talking if you go back to duke ellington or count basie. they are there to enhance and broaden your sound. key.s, it is >> your voice is as much an instrument in this band as any instrument that played. have you protected it?
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>> by the grace of god. i am always learning my instrument, learning more and more, just discovering what is there. i never feel as if i have arrived. up andr of opening leading the creative powers be present. tavis: i am glad that you feel like you have not arrived, that is breaking news. but you have arrived. one does not have to go to the studio to do a record to have a catalog big enough and bad enough to do is show.
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it raises a bunch of questions. if you don't have to do it, why do it? >> you have to be able to gauge in the well to be able to grow.ue to give and this is about just living our , it really makes you want to do more creative things. we got the opportunity to do it with sony legacy and we looked andt as a great opportunity we embraced the challenge this time. tavis: from conception, how long did it take? >> about two years. in the well and started listening and researching our own music.
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but once the process got going, it was really fluid and we thought we are cool right now. we had a lot of fun doing the record. also, larry put the middle pieces together for us. in the studio, you have a lot of joy and it translates on that cd. we have always had that kind of thing going on. personally, i can't wait to get to the studio. and working with these gentlemen, we were just in the same mindset. we kept going for it and it was really fluid. when you were in your house and listening to the old stuff, i know you play a lot of this every night.
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with the hits that you have and the limited time you have on stage. you hear now that you did not hear 25 or 30 years ago? didn't hear it even two years ago. i had to sit down and listen as if i was never in it, to really essentialsall the and the significance of what it is. it all came together when i began to realize that if you pick up a stevie wonder record, how upset you would be if it sounded like sole child or if the stones sounded like journey.
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accepting the reality that the music is significant to the world, and the music they have grown to love and listen to for 40 years is what it is. record,, we started the listening to everything. record to do that listening to earth wind and fire, staying focused on that. we all helped to focus and stay focused on what it is, who we are, and being true to that. tavis: set the modesty aside for a second and tell us what you think earth wind and fire has brought to the music game that you ought to be given credit for.
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approachtion and our toward what we did in terms of approachedand how we songwriting. approached how we our live presentation. i was i know people that talking to four years ago that i don't talk to anymore. you all have been together 40 years and you are still talking to each other. how is that possible? ofcan think of a litany bands. how do you still talk after 41 years? >> it is a very unique chemistry.
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it boils down to acquiescing to the other, giving the other their space and respect. love, and we dance well together. we don't have to talk about it. but when we do have to talk about it, we know how to do it. i assume that you can communicate nonverbally. >> absolutely. on and off the stage. quiet, ween we are are having a conversation. we might be talking about you. [laughter] tavis: i will have to watch this tape when i get done. him on stagewatch
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because he can queue the next song while he is singing the next song. >> look quickly. i am kind of like the pastor. house and iad the am taking the temperature of the house as we are moving along and i know exactly what should not happen with this audience. you can change the playlist or the order of the playlist in real-time? it has to happen because you are not playing to the same audience every night. how does the band jumped from one to the other -- >> you have to be paying attention. >> it comes from maurice.
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we learned that act in the day. being under him. and if we made a mistake, we would have rehearsal after the he would be back, writing the songs, he had already done that. we had taken the temperature and the last time i saw him for dinner i said you played a dirty trick. ,ou produced such good music that is that level. he taught us about being on the road. >> i think you right about that. speaker, and a public you don't want to miss your house and every house is different. ?hat are you feeling what are you looking for? >> certain energy.
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they are waiting for that. >> the audience is telling you when. they want to hear can't hide love or love holiday. this audience wants to marinate in it. there are certain ones that want to dance all night. you have to read that audience and you can't pull something that isn't there out of an audience. you can't take it dance audience and try to make them about audience. tavis: i will go down the line here and start with you, ralph. me one ballot that will be added to the pantheon of stuff. is tavis: that is mine. philip, give me a dance track.
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>> dance floor. no doubt. tavis: take those two tracks and the genesis, the back story for how they came to be on the project. >> dance floor was a song written by my son and his wife andrea. he also cowrote guiding light, in not only did he grow up this music thing, but being a musician, he studies what makes up each song and he listens very intently to boogie wonderland. because he is 30, he is how we translate
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that now, how we give a boogie wonderland now. >> our great manager brought love is law and it said it reminded him of a chicago feel. , andrned out really good the baseline specifically, he said to do the baseline when he was reducing emotions. it sort of has that kind of feel. >> i have been rocking for a year and a half. i can't get out of it. >> yeah. tavis: touring continues? >> yes. diego, september 6.
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>> and you keep going from there? >> we have been busy already. the hollywood bowl coming up september 13, 14, 15. a lot of horns and strings. me you are not driving the station wagon anymore? >> we are beyond the station wagon. i hope you got somebody else to do that? we are still in the station wagon. tavis: that means you made your money really well. i thank you, man. good to have you on the program. i love you, good to have you here.
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these are three of the founders of earth, wind, and fire. now, then, and forever. i don't know how they make the choices now. i don't know how you will add this to the playlist. the concert is going to be six hours long. i love it. glad to have you here and congratulations. tonight, asshow for always, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a then -ation with writer
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-ben -- ben foss. that's next time, see you then. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> be more.
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>> the following kqed production was produced in high definition. >> tonight on quest: they're majestic. many would even say they're beautiful. but they, and the flurry of activity around them, can be deadly. find out what's fueling a growing fear among residents of west oakland. and have you ever wondered what your most ancient ancestor looked like? well, this man can give you more than that. he can show you what her dna looked like. and see the newest way to care for san francisco's thousands of urban trees. here's a hint: you can do it without leaving your desk. [ ♪music ]


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