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Interview With Billy Ray Cyrus

Aired July 17, 2011 - 21:00   ET


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Billy Ray Cyrus' life is like a country song. In fact it's a lot like this one.

Talk about an achey breaky heart. His on again, off again divorce. Two women pregnant with his babies at the same time. And of course his rollercoaster relationship with his superstar daughter Miley.

BILLY RAY CYRUS: As a father, I was alarmed for my daughter's safety.

MORGAN: Tonight, Billy Ray Cyrus on his life, his family, his music, and of course that mullet.

The greatest mullet in the history of music. What were you thinking with that hair?

Billy Ray Cyrus for the hour. This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

Billy Ray, how are you?

CYRUS: I'm doing great. How are you doing, Piers?

MORGAN: So my first question is, did you ever have this terrible nagging feeling that if you suddenly keeled over from a heart attack tomorrow, the headlines would be, Miley Cyrus' dad dies of an achey breaky heart?

CYRUS: If that were the case, that's what it's going to read. There's no doubt about it.


CYRUS: And as ironic as my life is at times, that will probably be the way I go.

MORGAN: You've had an extraordinarily checkered life. I mean I was reading all about it the other day, just watching you. And you've had great highs, great lows, a fair liberal dose of scandal and drama and everything else.

How would you -- as you approach your 50th birthday, and by the way, you have weathered much better than I have. As you approach it, how would you sum up your life?

CYRUS: I would sum it up as, for every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction. For me, there's never been anything in the middle. It's either been white hot or ice cold. And it goes back to my childhood. You know, I was either really, really poor, and going through what a kid at that time might be going through in eastern Kentucky. My mom and dad got divorced when I was 5 years old and a lot of adversities.

But then there was the other side of my life that I look back at now and go, wow. On one hand, that was the best of times, you know? Just growing up, I had a lot of good friends. And always loved nature. And there was a lot of woods, obviously, the name Flatwoods, Kentucky, you know, there was a lot of woods to go out and ride horses and play.

So it was either really sad or really happy. And there wasn't a whole lot in between.

MORGAN: And as a musician all your life, does being able to have both extremes in your life, is that good for the creative process?

CYRUS: I'd kind of like to know some vanilla. Like something in the middle.


MORGAN: A quiet year.

CYRUS: Just have one good normal time. You know? But I don't think that's ever going to be the case for me. It never has been and probably never will.

MORGAN: I mean your daughter has inherited this slightly rebellious streak, I would say, as she gets a bit older, which is always inevitable. And as I watched her incredible rise to fame and well, we'll come to Miley a bit later, but just as a general principle of the Billy Ray and Miley life pattern, you can see a similar thing.

But you were -- you know, I love this line about your Pentecostal preacher is a grandfather. A father who was a state legislature. And you a juvenile delinquent.

CYRUS: Well, it's pretty (INAUDIBLE)


CYRUS: To be honest, you know, and again, it was that opposite equal reaction. My pappa was a Pentecostal preacher and my dad in the government. Yet at the same time, on any given night, if I could get the police to chase me, that was a successful night.


CYRUS: If they didn't chase me, then I was doing something wrong.

MORGAN: But now you're a father. And when you see Miley occasionally falling off the straight and narrow, do you recognize that slightly rebellious edge to her?

CYRUS: Of course. You know. I think that certainly she probably gets a lot of that from her old man. MORGAN: What have you learned about yourself over the last 50 years?

CYRUS: I've learned that it's not how many times you get knocked down, it's how many times you get back up. And that's kind of -- I think the key for everybody in life, you know.

MORGAN: And what's the key to getting back on your feet when you've had a big blow?

CYRUS: Dust yourself off. It's just like baseball. And I compare life to a baseball game a lot of times. You know, a lot of times, you know, you dive in. You might get called out. You might be safe, whatever. But you get that dirt on you. And the first thing you want to do is collect yourself and dust yourself off.

And life is a game of making adjustments, you know. And it's a journey. And I think that for all of us, including myself, I think it's a matter of going through this journey of life and sometimes you make good calls, sometimes you make bad calls. But the main thing is knowing the difference and making adjustments.

MORGAN: What would you say have been the best and worst moments of your life?

CYRUS: Well, the best -- the best being here with you.

MORGAN: Of course. Apart from the obvious.

CYRUS: OK. So --

MORGAN: Apart from that.

CYRUS: Apart from that, the best would be the day sitting on top of the hill with my kids. And my dad. Sitting around a fire. You know, roasting marshmallows. Laughing. Talking about life. And just living and being happy.


MORGAN: Existing in a blissful scenario.

CYRUS: I think -- again, a lot of the times with the kids I, you know, sit around -- outside. I love being outside. We built big fires up on top of the hill. And sit out, look at the stars. And roast marshmallows and wieners. I always do those types of things with my kids.

I wasn't good at sitting them down and saying, you know, let's do your algebra now. That wasn't my -- I just wasn't -- I wasn't good at that.


CYRUS: Wasn't good at doing that for myself, you know.

MORGAN: That's kind of what teachers are for. CYRUS: Maybe.

MORGAN: Why you send kids to school. I don't want to spend all my time teaching my kids that kin d of stuff. Life lessons I think are much more important. Steering them in a way that's going to make their lives more interesting.

CYRUS: That's right. I taught them to ride motorcycles. Horses. Camp out. You know. Play baseball.

MORGAN: And what would you say had been the worst moment of your life?

CYRUS: Oh, gosh. I have several to choose from.

MORGAN: The one you'd least like to go through again?


CYRUS: Gosh. Let's see.

MORGAN: With the power to be inflicted on you. What would you least want to go through?

CYRUS: Oh, my gosh. Yesterday was my dad's birthday and he passed away about five years ago of mesothelioma. I kind of want to say the day that he passed away was one of the worst days of my life. But quite frankly, even yesterday, knowing it was his birthday, was kind of reliving it all again. I still miss him a great deal. He was a great friend to me. A great dad. Matter of fact, I try to model myself as a parent after my dad.

MORGAN: What were his values that he tried to instill in you?

CYRUS: Well, first of all, he had a real love of music. And he had a love of people. And I find a lot of that is a whole lot of who I am to this day. I love people. That's why I make music. And I channel my emotions through that music and hopefully to translate to other people around the world, to touch people's lives.

MORGAN: When you've been going through these little scrapes with Miley in the last year or so, what advice would your dad have given you, do you think? If you ever think about it, ever wonder what he would have said?

CYRUS: Well, I share that a lot with Miley, and with all my kids. It's if you ain't happy, it ain't working. You got to do what you do because you love it, not because you have to.

MORGAN: I want to play you inevitably a little bit of the song that catapulted you into the global celebrity stratosphere. I was 27. I was living in London. And I remember this damn thing.

Everybody in the country was singing this song. So I've never forgotten that. So seeing you here in the flesh brings it all back. So I need to hear the music again. Let's hear a little bit of "Achey Breaky Heart."



MORGAN: I mean that is the greatest mullet in the history of music. Never mind the song. What were you thinking with that hair?

CYRUS: You know what? I think it started way back when I still thought I was going to be a baseball player. I thought I was going to be the catcher for the Cincinnati Reds. I wanted to be the next Johnny Bench. And always kept my head kind of -- kind of like a little bird haircut. And I think at some point I think I started growing a little tail. And I think it grew --

MORGAN: A little tail?


MORGAN: It's like you said, as you're watching it, it's an alligator.

CYRUS: It's an alligator.

MORGAN: Out of control. When you watch yourself, though, what are you honestly thinking when you see yourself there?

CYRUS: Well, I do look extremely happy. And I think --


MORGAN: Well, you were number one in about 100 countries.

CYRUS: And a year before that, I lived in my car. I was homeless.

MORGAN: Really?


MORGAN: A year before that?

CYRUS: A year before that. In 1991.

MORGAN: So you would have been, what, about 29?

CYRUS: I was 29.

MORGAN: You're 29 years old. You've got no money. You're living in your car. And what's the dream when you're in that car?

CYRUS: Well, the dream was and the prayer was that I would pray that God would give me the wisdom and the vision to sing the songs I was supposed to sing, to do the things I was supposed to do, to be the person I was supposed to be, and through my life and my music, I prayed that God would give me the ability to represent the light and his love. And be something positive --

MORGAN: And the Lord -- and the Lord sent the world "Achey Breaky Heart."

CYRUS: Actually -- yes, maybe he did. I'm sure -- however it ended up coming, it was odd, you know, I had --


MORGAN: What was the moment for you when you realized this song was going to change your life?

CYRUS: Well, I had 10 songs recorded for the album. I was sitting in my guitar player's apartment the day we were rehearsing to go record the album and my producer played me a piece of the song. It just started. The guitar was just chucking. And they said, "You can tell the world you never was my girl. You can burn my clothes up when I'm gone."

And I stood up and said, "That's me, that's me. I love it." Because it was bar band trash. Like, just rocking, just fun.

MORGAN: 11:00 at the bar, everyone's had a few drinks. Boom.

CYRUS: Absolutely, just boom. It just felt like a good time waiting to happen. And I jumped up. I said that's me.

MORGAN: When did it explode? When did you get a call or somebody said, you thought, wow, OK, this is going?

CYRUS: The night that we did the video in Ashland, Kentucky, that very nice, I felt like something changed. I could feel like something is about to happen. And quite frankly, it's really -- that's what I go on, is just instincts, gut feelings, and I did have a feeling that night that this feels like something about to happen.

And then about a month later, we played a show called the "Ralph Emery Show" on TNN. And it was a live show. At that time it was almost like being on Johnny Carson or "Ed Sullivan Show." That was kind of like my Ed Sullivan, and we played that show, and I felt the teeter go to totter that night.

MORGAN: The teeter go to totter? I love that phrase.

CYRUS: It sure it.

MORGAN: What happened when the teeter goes to totter?

CYRUS: I got really busy, and started getting on a lot of airplanes and getting in a lot of limousines. And --

MORGAN: Everything had changed.

CYRUS: I was, you know, just a kid from Flatwoods, Kentucky, that had a dream. You know and I hadn't really traveled that much.

MORGAN: Well, we're going to take a little break and come back and talk about Miley and how she's now experiencing exactly what her old man went through and what you feel about that. CYRUS: OK.


MORGAN: Back with my special guest, Billy Ray Cyrus.

Let's talk Miley. You see unlike most of the world, when I read your recent controversial "GQ" interview, I nodded my way through it. As a parent, who's kind of on the -- this sort of celebrity entertainment world psych at the moment, I totally got where you're coming from.

And although it may have -- the comments you came out with may be a little bit emotional in parts, I actually thought, well, you know what, maybe it had to be said. Maybe the family had to read this. Digest it. And think about what "Hannah Montana," this global phenomenon, had actually done to you as a family.

CYRUS: I realized that I made a big mistake even giving that interview. It was the darkest time of my life. Of dark. Not -- I mean, it was dark. And turbulent and that would have been a real good time for me to probably go sit by the fire alone, you know?

MORGAN: Well, you were on your own, weren't you?

CYRUS: I was.

MORGAN: You've split up temporarily from wife, the love of you life. And you were probably feeling pretty depressed. Lonely. And all the things that go with it. But I still come back to -- when I read it cold again yesterday. I was reading at the time and all the fuss and stuff, I wasn't so sure it was such a big mistake.

CYRUS: Yes, I just think, you know, I probably -- that wasn't a good time for me to do an interview. I'm sure of that.

MORGAN: But it was searingly honest. It's what you felt, wasn't it?

CYRUS: I was definitely dealing with a lot in my world. And --

MORGAN: You'd seen your family slightly fractured by -- and the fame aspect couldn't be irrelevant to it.

CYRUS: I felt like and still feel like that, you know, my family was the definition of my life. That was the most important thing. And what Billy Ray Cyrus was all about. And I seen it coming unraveled. And again, probably even more so makes sense why it wasn't a really good time to give that interview. Especially sitting at my kitchen table in my home alone, you know. It just --

MORGAN: Feeling sorry for yourself?

CYRUS: And you know -- yes, the interview -- yes, I was -- I probably was, you know? To be honest. And it had been set up for quite some time. The interview was supposed to happen. It just wasn't supposed to happen like that. But I kind of look back on it, you know, I go, man, it's like everything in life. You know you make some good calls, like I said earlier. You made some good calls, you make some bad ones. And what you got to pray for is to know the difference between the two and to be able to make adjustments. And --

MORGAN: How did Miley actually react to the interview?

CYRUS: Shoot, I don't know, you know.

MORGAN: The next time you spoke to her, what did she say?

CYRUS: It was such a -- again, a dark time. I don't think there was a whole lot. It was more of just the emotions of seeing that our whole family was really falling apart.

MORGAN: It's a hard time for you.

CYRUS: Yes, it wasn't good.

MORGAN: I want to play a little clip from "Hannah Montana" so we can see what all the fuss is about.


MORGAN: For the two people on the planet earth who haven't seen it. (INAUDIBLE) and look at this.


MILEY CYRUS, "HANNAH MONTANA": Daddy, you gave up your whole life so I could have my dream. How can I stop you from having yours?

CYRUS: You kids are my dream. I didn't give up my career because I had to. I gave it up because I wanted to.


MORGAN: I mean, pretty poignant, that clip, actually. I mean obviously we chose it deliberately because I'd be talking to you about this period in your life. But when you see that, I mean, you know, real life mirroring that clip in many ways for you. This was -- you've made sacrifices for your daughter. She was suddenly this huge international star. But the effect for whatever reason on your family was pretty cataclysmic.

CYRUS: Yes, sir, that's correct. And it is ironic you show that clip. I think that's one of the things that really connected about "Hannah Montana" was the realism that wait a minute, this is art imitating life imitating art back to imitating life.

It was so real that, you know, even Miley originally she was going to be Kiley. And I just kept calling her Miley and right before we started shooting the pilot, the producers came and said, hey, just go with Miley. She's going to be Miley, not Kiley. And I look back on it. I think that was a key moment in the story of "Hannah Montana." Because had it not been so real, had there not been so many moments that came right out of the pages of our life even down to the song I wrote about Miley. You know one of the episodes called "Ready, Set, Don't Go," I wrote that song as Miley left for California. The series was picked up. I knew that her life and our lives as a family was going to change. And my little girl was growing up. And just kind of came to me. Just they were disappearing down the driveway. I came in and picked up my guitar. Just wrote what I was feeling. And it became, "Ready, Set, Don't Go."

MORGAN: And if you're an artist, what were you really feeling as she disappeared down the driveway? Knowing the pitfalls of the business? Knowing how many child stars in particular end up in a very dysfunctional way in their lives?

CYRUS: I just knew that there was a whole lot of change ahead. I mean I could just feel it. So, you know, her life is going to change.

MORGAN: Were you excited? Were you worried? Were you frightened?

CYRUS: I couldn't really -- at that moment, you know, it's best to just -- you know if you hear the words of the song, you know, she's got to do what she's got to do. And I got to like it or not. She's got dreams too big for this town. And she needs to give it a shot.

MORGAN: But given all that's happened since, good and bad, I can take you back to that driveway and say, OK, listen, you can start by getting in the car. You can stop her leaving now. You can stop this train before it leaves the station. The fame. The whole thing. Would you take that option?

CYRUS: No. This was Miley's dream. This was her -- I believe --

MORGAN: Same dream you had --

CYRUS: -- was to touch people's lives. To -- through her music and her life. I still believe. You know, her name was originally Destiny Hope, which I had given her the name before she was born because I had a vision --

MORGAN: Honestly that wouldn't have worked.

CYRUS: It wouldn't have worked. I know.


CYRUS: But I felt it was her destiny to bring hope to the world. When I see her selling out arenas around the world or this TV show, making people laugh, bringing families into the living room together, we always, you know, try to put positive messages in each episode if we could. And, you know, I do think that she -- this is her purpose, is -- her path.

You know, I think she's a natural born singer/songwriter/entertainer. She's a great actress. And she's got a lot to offer the world as --

MORGAN: Well, she certainly -- she has all those things. Incredible talent. Unbelievable. But when we come back, we're going to talk more Miley. And in particular, I'll race through this, naughty pictures in magazines. Pole dancing at Teen Choice Awards. Bong gate.

CYRUS: Was it about me?

MORGAN: And underage drinking. And that incredibly is not you.


MORGAN: Well, it probably was, actually.



MORGAN: Back with Billy Ray Cyrus.

I want to play you a moment from 1984. TNN's Music City Tonight. And this is your little baby Miley. Quite literally.


CYRUS: The whole world was just going so fast and --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this your daughter? Is this Miley? Miley.

CYRUS: Hey, Miley, look in the camera. Do your eyes one time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which camera? Do your eyes, Miley. Right here. Do your eyes.

CYRUS: Do you eyes, Miley. Do your eyes. Very talented child. Very -- she learned that from her dad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I tell you something? Now this is very dangerous, you're teaching her to flirt at a very early age. You're going to be in big trouble when she's about, what, 12, 13?



MORGAN: Great clip, isn't it?

CYRUS: It's amazing. Again, art imitating life imitating art.

MORGAN: Absolutely right. But that girl was born to perform. I mean even then, totally unfazed by -- and I see it a lot on "America's Got Talent" when you get these young ones. You just look at how intimidated they are by the environment. And they got in them to be able to deal with a crowd going crazy or laughing or applauding, whatever it may be.

CYRUS: That's right.

MORGAN: And she had it. Even at that age.

CYRUS: She was about that size -- we were doing a tribute to Elvis Presley at the pyramid in Memphis, Tennessee. Right around that same time period. She came out on stage with some of the biggest stars in the world. Everybody was holding her and she had her hands up. She was singing.

The last guy to hold her at the end of the song was Tony Bennett. And Tony Bennett came -- as the song ended, he said, you've got a special little girl here. And I've often wondered if he recalls that moment.

MORGAN: Even then, he could see it.

CYRUS: He was the last one holding her, was Tony Bennett, said, you've got a special little girl here.

MORGAN: I mean, how would you describe what she's really like? Forget the media stereotype, the caricature. What are probably the biggest misconceptions about your daughter, do you think?

CYRUS: You know, I think that might be one in itself, is that -- she really -- she's the real deal. What you see is what you get. I mean, she's for real. And, you know, she ain't perfect and I sure as hell ain't, you know. I mean, none of us are. But Miley really, really has a good heart. And she loves people. She loves music. She loves entertaining. She loves -- there's a lot of things that Miley does that I wouldn't go into right now on a humanitarian basis. But Miley is a great humanitarian. She really cares about her fellow man, and people, and oh, my goodness, the planet, animals.

She -- she's -- she has a great heart, and --

MORGAN: I only met her -- I've met her once. And I was doing an Oscars red carpet for NBC. And she came down. Obviously all these big stars and stuff. And she -- I was struck by how confident she was.

CYRUS: As I was doing my first series, "Doc," and Miley -- she kept saying, "Daddy, can they write something in for me?" And then -- and so they wrote her in one episode. And from the time she did that episode, she was, "Can they write me in next week?" "Can they write me in next week?"

A few weeks after that, she and I went to see "Mamma Mia," in Toronto. And I'll never forget it. It was that combination of acting, and the performance on stage of the singers. And she said, "That's what I want to do." And she -- she started studying like -- I mean, it was like on the radar of, "I'm going to be a great actress, and this is what I'm going to do." And she just started like there was no -- she burnt all bridges of everything else.

"I'm going to be a great actress, and a singer song writer. This is what I'm going to do." And she applied herself.

MORGAN: Obviously, like any teenager, just like her dad, fell off the road (ph) a little bit. I mean, not -- not anything that bad to be honest with you. But I wanted to take you through very quickly the fall -- Miley scandals, to see what you really think.

Given that you yourself are no angel.


MORGAN: So the -- the Vanity Fair pictures, which -- which were the first real kind of scandal I guess that -- and you were both caught up in this. What is your -- looking back on it, a storm in a teacup?

CYRUS: Didn't see anything horribly wrong about it. But yet again it was Miley Cyrus. And --

MORGAN: Were you surprised that people said they were inappropriate?

CYRUS: No. Nothing surprises me. You know, people, the media loves to judge. And that's why I'm almost hesitant to give my opinion on anything anymore. Cause I think people are really tired of hearing another celebrity with their opinion on this, or their opinion on that. And -- and so I -- I try to just --

MORGAN: Was the -- was the bong gate scandal worse for you to deal with?

CYRUS: Bong gate happened in the midst of my darkness -- in my darkest hour. So --

MORGAN: So you took it worse perhaps than you would have done?

CYRUS: By then, I -- I was probably -- I was a bit numb of pain at that time. And realizing that, you know, oh, my gosh. As a father I -- I was alarmed for my daughter's safety. But at the same time my whole world was crumbling apart beneath my feet anyway. So there wasn't a whole lot I could do.

MORGAN: What did she learn from it do you think? Miley?

CYRUS: I think that she learned that, you know -- that she probably needed to make an adjustment in her life, you know? That -- I think that maybe she felt -- you know, at that time realizing that you know what it is? The old much is expected from who much is given.

And there's a certain amount of responsibility, you know, for all of us.

MORGAN: Do you think she woke up and realized that actually with all the success and the fame, and all the positives that go with that? Actually if you were a Disney star, you have a responsibility as a role model, which is inarguable. It's not like being a rock star. If you're a Disney star, it's different. You -- you have got millions and millions of young people around the world who will copy you. That's the difference.

CYRUS: Yes. Yes.

MORGAN: Do you think she realized that?

CYRUS: I think so.

MORGAN: Hard. I mean, hard for any girl I think to be as successful as she's been, reach their teens, and not be allowed to behave how most teens behave.

CYRUS: Miley really has -- she's given up a lot of what a lot of kids, especially teenagers, go through. Well, she found herself being one of the biggest stars in the world. And you know, it -- I look back -- back on it and go, wow. What an odd place for a teenager to be.

At least I was -- you know, I was 30 years old, you know, when it happened for me. And so I was, you know, at least a little more prepared for however you can prepare for something like that.

MORGAN: Are you -- are you proud of her? Not professionally, but are you proud of her for the way that she has dealt with these mini scandals?

CYRUS: Oh, heck yes. Man, I think -- I think the way she has again -- it's like I want to say all kids and all teenagers. But it's really all people. It is a matter of you go through life, you make some good calls, you make some bad calls. But it's a matter of knowing the difference, and making adjustments.

And I think -- I think she's well on her way to being the happiest I've ever seen her. I think she's thriving as -- as an artist right now. She has two movies in the can that she's worked on over the past several months.

MORGAN: And how is your relationship with her now, would you say?

CYRUS: Really good.

MORGAN: Better than ever? Well, let -- let me rephrase that. Because I presume before she became famous, it's never going to be as good as that. Because fame affects everything.


MORGAN: But since she's been famous, do you think you now have a stronger relationship than you've had before?

CYRUS: I look back on it. It goes to what we was talking about earlier about that driveway. And seeing her disappear, heading west and knowing what was about to happen. Again, I knew what was going to happen.

MORGAN: Because you -- you've done it. You've been there.

CYRUS: And then I think, "Oh, my gosh." But it just seemed like yesterday that she was on the front of my motorcycle, and my little boy was in the back. And we was riding down that same driveway. We -- we didn't see what was coming. But we had a dream, and a love of music, and a passion of entertaining people. MORGAN: That's pretty real. I want to talk to you when we come back after this short break about another phenomenon, which is -- well, certainly by Hollywood standards about you split from your wife, entered the dark places you talked to me about so candidly. And then it all ended with bright lights, and happiness. You're back with her. Congratulations.


MORGAN: Back with Billy Ray Cyrus. Billy Ray, you have an extraordinary tale to tell involving your wife, Tish, I think. Because you split up, and you entered this dark place that you talked to me about. And it clearly was very dark just from the way you're -- you're describing this. Yes, probably the -- the worst time of your life.

And you announced your divorce was going to happen. And then something happened. You went on "the View" recently. And I'm going to play you a clip of what you said.


CYRUS: For the first time, me and my entire family are really communicating with each other in a way that it's been quite some time. And to answer your question, things are really the best they've ever been.


CYRUS: And a lot of people think that I am divorced. I'm not divorced.

UNKNOWN FEMALE: You're working on it.

CYRUS: I dropped the divorce. I wanted to put my family back together.

UNKNOWN FEMALE: That's so awesome. Way too awesome.


MORGAN: What do you think watching that?

CYRUS: I think the family is too important to just give up on, you know?

MORGAN: What went wrong? And then what went right, when you look back?

CYRUS: Well, I think when you look back on it, and you go, "What went wrong?" Probably part of that rocket ride, you know? The whole family was on that ride. And kind of like I said in the interview there. When you lose communication, you lose the key to any relationship. I think what went right was the fact of realizing what's most important in life, you know?

And I think that it became clear that keeping the family together was, you know, crucially important.

MORGAN: I mean, you've been through so much. How did you -- how did you win your wife back?

CYRUS: You know, I just prayed for vision and strength, and wisdom to communicate.

MORGAN: Was there -- was there a moment when you thought, "Okay. This is going to work?"

CYRUS: It was kind of a -- I guess so. I guess there might have been a moment maybe. I think it was more about step by step, you know?

MORGAN: Given that the -- the -- this ride that you talk about, this rocket ride was part of the problem. How have you adjusted things now so that it works better for all of you?

CYRUS: Communication is the key.

MORGAN: So talking?

CYRUS: Everybody just talk at what's on your mind. Say it, you know? I -- I think that's one of the biggest problems in the world is the lack of communication. Look at all the crazy chaos going on all around the world that could just be solved with communication.

MORGAN: And Miley must have been thrilled wasn't she? When you got back?

CYRUS: I -- I'm guessing so.

MORGAN: You know so.


MORGAN: Come on, she must have said so.

CYRUS: Yes, she -- she does. Yes.

MORGAN: It must have been one -- I mean, great thing have happened. And I mean, you know, to be in her position, and then have to go through what you went through when you were five years old. Hard, hard things --


MORGAN: -- for a young girl to deal with.

CYRUS: It would have been tough for all the kids.

MORGAN: Yes, and I think probably -- did your mind flash back to how you felt as a five year old?

CYRUS: Oh, yes. Yes.

MORGAN: Did you realize that either I could make them all feel this way for a long time, or I can fix this.

CYRUS: Correct.

MORGAN: Good for you.

CYRUS: Yes. Thank you.

MORGAN: Let's take another break.



CYRUS: The company has decided to fly your son Aaron to be here today. And would really like for you to be with him. Take a look right there.


MORGAN: That's a very emotional moment there from Billy Ray's latest television project, "Surprise Homecoming," on TLC. Love that.

CYRUS: Oh, thank you. It was really an honor to be a part of -- of this show, and to be with the -- the troops. Our men and women in uniform are just amazing. I've -- I've realized in doing the show the sacrifice the entire family makes. The moms, the dads, the kids, especially.

I mean, talking to the kids and this. And their moms and dads, and sometimes both at the same time. I mean, it's just been really a -- a very rewarding. I did this because I was passionate about our troops. Again I wrote a song, "Some Gave All," back in 1989 about a Vietnam veteran. To realize 20 years later to find myself in the middle of Iraq and Afghanistan.

And surrounded by the bravest men and women in all the world, you know? And -- and there was one point where I was playing, "Some Gave All." And it was interrupted with some bomb blasts outside of Kabul. And one soldier stood up and said, "Keep going, Mr. Cyrus. We're used to it."

And I knew at that moment that I was going to dedicate my music and my life to saying thanks to the troops, and letting them know how much we appreciate their service and sacrifice.

MORGAN: And the other thing that you care very passionately about is this charity that you are involved in. Tell me about that.

CYRUS: That's right -- COPD. And if you want to learn about COPD --

MORGAN: What does it stand for?

CYRUS: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. And --

MORGAN: And -- and the relevance for you is --


CYRUS: Yes. That's right. My grandfather had problems breathing. He died when I was 11 or 12 years old in the -- and I've seen -- again, I mention my father who had Mesothelioma, but the struggle to breath. And as -- the more I learned about COPD, the more I realized that this was something that I need to learn about, and that we all need to learn about.

You can go to DRIVEFORCOPD.COM. Take a five question screener. See if you're a candidate for the disease. And most importantly, knowledge is power. The more you can learn to battle this disease, the better and the stronger we can be. The -- the "four" stands for the fourth leading cause of death in America, which I found considerably alarming.

MORGAN: It is alarming. Well, good luck with that. And good luck with the album.

CYRUS: Thank you.

MORGAN: "I'm American," Billy Ray Cyrus. Very moody picture you got there, Billy Ray, I must say. What does being an American mean to you?

CYRUS: It's the land of the free, the home of the brave. The fact that our men and women in uniform past and present have allowed folks like me and Miley to have a dream, and to pursue that dream in freedom. And again, I'm so proud of our troops, their families, and their service, and their sacrifice.

MORGAN: Well, I'm going to ask you after this final break to perform a song from the --


MORGAN: -- album. And you're going to sing, I think, "Runway Lights."

CYRUS: "Runway Lights."

MORGAN: You and your guitar.


MORGAN: Billy Ray Cyrus, it's been a real pleasure.

CYRUS: You too, Piers.

MORGAN: Thank you.

CYRUS: Honor.


(SINGING) MORGAN: "AC 360" starts next. But first, Billy Ray Cyrus performing his new single, "Runway Lights," from the album, "I'm American." Billy Ray, take it away.