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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
Interview with Jimmy Fallon; Interview with Billy Corgan
Aired June 23, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, CNN: Tonight, a man not afraid to speak his mind. The front man of one of the biggest bands of the '90s, Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan. Why he feels so disappointed by President Obama.
Plus, Jimmy Fallon, King of Late Night, and the man of a million voices.
JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON" (IMMITATING JERRY SEINFELD): Who buys these beach pants? No guy wants to wear them to the beach.
MORGAN: Including, rather worryingly, my own.
MORGAN: Tonight Jimmy Fallon goes completely bonkers doing Jim Morrison.
FALLON (singing): Take a look, it's in a book, a reading rainbow. A reading rainbow.
MORGAN: There's only one man in America who could bring together Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, Paul McCartney, Justin Timberlake, not to mention Carly Rae Jepsen. That man is, of course, the United States' reigning king of comedy, Jimmy Fallon.
Think about that himself, that's why I know his true. He's the host of NBC's "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon."With his new album, he apparently wants to blow your pants off.
JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": Yes.
MORGAN: Jimmy Fallon.
FALLON: Piers, thank you for having me back.
MORGAN: How are you?
FALLON: Yes, since the last time I saw you, I thought you would never invite me back.
FALLON: It got really ugly. MORGAN: Intriguing cover of your album here.
FALLON: Yes, I was --
MORGAN: It appears to a naked butt.
FALLON: It's a gentleman enjoying a red wine -- what's a red wine do you love?
MORGAN: Chateau le Tour?
FALLON: Yes, it's a Chateau le Tour. MORGAN: Yes.
FALLON: And he's just sitting down in (INAUDIBLE) Road, because -- (INAUDIBLE) murder. And he's laying on his rug and he's about to listen to "Blow Your Pants Off" and his pants just get blown off right when the photographer takes the photo and that's -- so it's --
MORGAN: It's sort of Madmenesque until here.
FALLON: They're not going --
MORGAN: And then it becomes more like Ron Jeremy.
FALLON: Yes. Every community at some way or another there's a (INAUDIBLE) somehow.
MORGAN: The last you were here, you wore smart suit, you were very much the persona of a television star. What is worrying me slightly about all this is you've arrived today, looking, for all intense and purposes, like Mick Jagger, and you've also arrived with one of biggest entourages, I think, I've ever seen.
FALLON: Well, I thought even now to this today, I -- at the St. Thomas Lane. I don't know even.
MORGAN: There are the Fallonettes, as I'm now going to cal them.
FALLON: Yes, there's a lot of --
MORGAN: This is the second biggest entourage I've seen after Beyonce, which she had one. Tony Jackson was bigger although maybe not as (INAUDIBLE).
FALLON: A lot of pretty girls here with me in my entourage,.
MORGAN: Are they called the Fallonettes?
FALLON: They are not. Yes, they are now but they have a name for them. They -- it's a big entourage of people and it's even bigger. There's a gang of kids outside --
MORGAN: How do you jump this rock star shot?
FALLON: Thanks, god. No. MORGAN: Is it also --
FALLON: I haven't changed at all.
MORGAN: The album cover? The entourage? The new look?
FALLON: The new look -- I'm just losing --
MORGAN: Are you not taken so seriously as a rock star?
FALLON: I just have this compilation of all this music and maybe it is going in my ahead a little bit.
But I'm very proud of the record. I think it's a good, fun comedy album.
MORGAN: No, it's fantastic. I actually loved it. And the whole idea that you managed to persuade these people to do this is equally unfathomable to me.
Paul McCartney and you sing scrambled eggs we just saw obviously on the show. But the fact you've got it on to an album. You're singing the original title of "Yesterday" with Paul McCartney.
FALLON: I mean, a lot of people don't even -- I got -- I tell the story to my friends.
MORGAN: Yesterday it was double scrambled eggs, because I bet she's seeing the original manuscript they did him and John Lennon.
FALLON: You wrote scrambled eggs -- my lady how I love your legs.
FALLON: And then he went to sleep because they didn't have tape recorders back in the day so I go in the kitchen for this. I interview him. He's the nicest human. And he's doing a "Saturday Night Live," and so I go into this restaurant, hey, Paul, hey, Jimmy, we'll just have a little chat, you know --
FALLON: It's going to be a fun chat. And I go we're going to have fun, and I go yes, we'll have fun. And I go, I'm just wondering if you want -- we were at a sketch he goes, you know, I just rather just do a chat. You know, just a chat that fun. It's fun, you know, to just do that, which is like a veggie burger. You know, and I go, thank you, and I'm like, of course, how do you say so I'm having a veggie burglar, I'm talking to Paul McCartney, he's one of my idols. And I go -- it's just -- it's called scrambled eggs. It's based on remember when you wrote yesterday, you wrote scrambled eggs. He goes, of course I remembered I wrote it. (LAUGHTER)
FALLON: And I go, I know, but this is the thing. I go one of our writers finished the song as if you wrote the whole song about scrambled eggs.
And he goes, oh, let's just -- let's just hear it, sort of just being polite.
And so I sang the whole song, you know --
Scrambled eggs, oh my lady, I love your legs, you know, but not as much as I love scrambled eggs. Oh, have you tried, scrambled eggs?
And then his head is over my shoulder reading the words like, "waffle fries, oh, my lady how I love your thighs," you know.
And -- and then I go, oh my gosh, you know, are you going to do it?
He's laughing and he goes, I'll do it, but only if you do it with me. And I was like -- because I -- I -- I didn't go in for a duet. I went in to have him just do this bit by himself. And I did -- I really didn't go in --
MORGAN: I mean it's a completely surreal moment, isn't it?
I mean it's Paul McCartney.
FALLON: Yes. It's -- it's --
MORGAN: Sir Paul McCartney.
FALLON: Sir Paul McCartney and he's my idol. I've been growing up -- I mean I have every one of his albums. I know every B side to Paul McCartney. I have a fan letter I wrote on "Give My Regards to Broad Street," album, where you can see, if you hold it up to the light, you can see my -- my penmanship through the -- the cardboard on the album. And it's a sad fan letter --
FALLON: -- to Paul McCartney. And I think I got like this, you know, something back.
When I do a bit with, you know, Paul McCartney or Bruce Springsteen that might --
MORGAN: Bruce Springsteen, I mean incredibly, you got him to cover Willis Smith's hit, right?
FALLON: "Whip My Hair."
MORGAN: "Whip My Hair."
MORGAN: Now, I just can't -- I mean looking at the image of the two of you, I just don't know how this ever happened.
MORGAN: How did you persuade --
FALLON: I --
MORGAN: -- Bruce Springsteen --
FALLON: -- we --
MORGAN: -- The Boss?
FALLON: The Boss. I'm talking to him on the phone and I -- and I -- he's seen, on the show I do -- I've done an impression of Neil Young. I've done it on your show. I just -- I just do an impression of Neil Young singing versions of topical songs. I did Neil Young singing "Fresh Prince of Bel Aire." I did Neil Young singing "Pants on the Ground."
But I did a beautiful Neil Young version, like "pants on the ground." And it's sad, almost. And you go, you know, "looking like a fool with your pants on the ground.
And it's really a heartwarming song. And so Bruce saw those things and so I said I have an idea, right. I'll do Neil and you do you and we'll just do Willis' "Whip My Hair."
And he goes, I have to say, I'm not familiar with that track.
FALLON: And I go, I -- I go, well, it's -- it's a really big hit song. It's Will Smith's daughter, Willow Smith.
It goes "I whip my hair back and forth. I whip my hair back and forth."
That's the song. It's really fun. It's poppy. I go, but I'm going to do it as Neil going like, "whip my hair back and forth." And it's really haunting and sad. And then you come in and you go, "you got to whip your hair." --
FALLON: You know, so I'm doing this on the phone --
MORGAN: You have got to have the most persuasive skills of anybody in America.
FALLON: No, no, no.
MORGAN: Bruce Springsteen is listening to this and goes, yes, that's a good idea.
FALLON: No, but he loved it. He was like -- and so he's laughing and he goes -- he goes, I like it. He goes, in fact, what I'm thinking is maybe I'll be the -- I'll dress like '70s Bruce. MORGAN: Which he does.
FALLON: He says to me, so cut two, we're putting a beard and -- and -- and a floppy hat and sunglasses on Bruce Springsteen so he can come out. No one in the audience knew that it was really Bruce Springsteen. They were like, this is like an impersonator or somebody.
FALLON: I don't quite get this. And then they're like, wait a second, that's Bruce doing this. And you -- the -- the -- the amazing part is, first of all, you know, he's such a -- he's just a rock star. So you stand next to him and you just feel that -- that -- that magnetism or something that those rock stars have, you know. And it's like I'm -- we put the beard on him and the glasses and the hat and he looks like he's from, you know, a "Born To Run" album cover.
And so he walks across -- out of the -- out of the hair makeup to the green room, you know. And he just, you know, he just walks -- he walks over, you know, and he's like this -- he's got that stride. He's got his jean -- tight jeans on. And he's just cool.
And he walks and he goes -- he walks over to his manager, Jon Landau. And John Landau starts throwing up a little bit. And he's like, Bruce, you -- you look like when we -- when we first started working together.
MORGAN: Is he serious?
FALLON: Yes. And it's like, if you think about it, when would he -- when would he ever see Bruce dressed like he was 30 years ago?
MORGAN: Listen, it's a brilliant album.
We're going to come back after the break and talk about your other extraordinary achievement, persuading the president of the United States to slow jam the news. I don't know how you do this.
FALLON: It's a crazy year.
MORGAN: I want to learn the art.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The reason it's so important to keep down costs is so we keep college affordable.
FALLON: And the president knows his stuff, you all. That's why they call him the POTUS, which means person on top -- what is it. OBAMA: Jimmy, Potus stands for president of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's the POTUS with the mostest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FALLON: POTUS with the mostest.
MORGAN: That was, of course, the president of the United States, the commander-in-chief slow jamming news on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon."
How did you persuade him to do that?
FALLON: It was one of these weird things. The -- we -- we had done a -- a sketch for a -- for the White House for the Get Fit initiative with the First Lady.
MORGAN: We're going to come to that.
FALLON: Where -- yes. So that's -- so we already --
MORGAN: You basically got humiliated by the first lady on almost every physical test she put you to.
FALLON: Well, she's very fit.
MORGAN: And you're clearly not.
FALLON: Well, it wasn't humiliation. It's just the joy of competition, you know?
MORGAN: Or did you deliberately lose to her to try and get the --
FALLON: No, she had a home --
MORGAN: -- with the president?
FALLON: No, because we did everything inside the White House. And I don't know the White House. She knows where she's going. I mean we went -- we were -- I -- I -- first of all, I put on my best outfit so that I can work out.
MORGAN: We're -- we're looking at it now.
FALLON: Well, it's the -- even Bo didn't even dig this. You know, Bo -- and she made me change. The First Lady made me change.
And so then we played -- we -- we started a race up the stairs in the White House. We played -- we had a potato sack race in the East Room. And so it was like, we played dodge ball in -- in the East Room, which is a -- there's a -- there's a portrait of George Washington from -- that's like the oldest artifact in the White House in the room where I'm playing dodge ball. MORGAN: Do you think you're enhancing the reputation of your nation and its great leader by doing a sack race the East Room, a potato race?
FALLON: Well, the goal of this is to get children to get fit and workout and do --
MORGAN: Was that your goal, Jimmy, or was it just to get some of the most hilarious comedic scenes ever seen in the history of the White House --
FALLON: The White House.
MORGAN: Don't lie to me. Tell me the truth.
FALLON: I -- I want to say Gerald --
MORGAN: What's your first thought --
FALLON: -- Gerald Ford has played dodge ball before in the White House, hasn't he?
FALLON: No, I don't think -- I -- well, here's the -- the thing. I -- I -- I -- I love the president and I love -- I love anyone who's the president. I'm very patriotic.
So -- and if they want me to do a thing, if I can help them out in any way, I'll try to do it so that we both win, of course. But I -- I want do it --
MORGAN: And you had a private meeting with the president before this -- the slow jam?
MORGAN: How does that go?
FALLON: Well, the -- it's -- by protocol, they want you to meet the president alone, because you invited him, so you -- so I'm -- I have to be there in -- no -- no stage manager, no assistants, no Fallonettes, no one is allowed to --
MORGAN: No Fallonettes?
FALLON: No. Yes, yes, yes. No. So --
MORGAN: This could be painful for you.
FALLON: So no one knows -- so no -- no wife. My wife was -- had to stand like in -- in the room right next door, not even the room, like maybe just 40 feet away. But he just wants to see you first so he can go say hi to you. And it's just protocol. So what I did was I had a piece of paper printed out that said President Obama, like a limousine driver would have at an airport. And I waited for the limo to pull out. I'm like, you know, I'm squinting, like, is that you?
You know, then he came out. And he goes hi, I'm -- I'm Marcus. I'm your escort. And if you want a water or anything, let me know. And he started laughing at that. And he was like -- he was like, oh, this will be fun. This will be fun. We're going to slow jam. We're going to slow jam.
FALLON: And I go, yes, we're going to slow jam. It's great.
And he's like, all right, where's your -- where's your wife, Nancy, because he knows everybody. The security has already came in and swept everything, the Secret Service. He knows he's going to meet my wife, then he's going to meet the writers of Slow Jam the News and we're going to do the -- we're going to rehearse it.
So we go into -- he meets my wife. He's very presidential and very charming. He's -- and then we go into a -- a room with the writers and I show my rehearsal.
And I go this is a bit we do on the show.
He goes, oh, I've -- I've seen slow jam. All right, here we go.
So we show it to him. And he -- and he looks at it and he goes, I -- I'm ready. Let's go.
So we run to the card. And he's fantastic. He has great timing, very comedic timing..
MORGAN: I saw him at the White House Correspondents Dinner. It was a fantastic speech.
FALLON: You don't want to follow him.
MORGAN: The guy could -- he could go to Vegas.
FALLON: No, I would never want to be on the -- the White House correspondents thing, because I -- I couldn't follow President Obama. He's too -- he's too good.
MORGAN: He's naturally -- he's got great comic timing.
FALLON: He's funny, great timing and he just --
FALLON: -- the guy has got great writers, too.
MORGAN: Yes, he has good -- good writers.
FALLON: Yes. Yes. Serious. Anyone who is looking for a job, come over and want to come to New York.
But he -- so he goes over the thing. And at the end, normally I do it with Brian Williams.
FALLON: And Brian Williams, at the end of my Slow Jam -- which I should tell people what it is. It's basically just reading the news and just, you know, in like an R&B sexy style, very breathy.
And so I -- at the end, Brian Williams usually goes, oh, yes.
And President Obama turned it in and he goes, oh, yes. Yes, come on.
FALLON: You've got to give me more. And he goes -- and I go, can you give it a little?
And -- and he just cut me off and he was like, I'm not -- I'm not going to. I'm not going to -- like he knew I was going to try to ask him to do it. Like, oh, he's like, no, I'm going to. I can't do that.
I mean there are certain things, you know, like the -- the White House, we -- I know from my years at "Saturday Night Live" how to not go too far over the edge so it's insulting anyone.
And so -- but so there wasn't much of a change, you know, to the script.
MORGAN: Your jokes are never terrible.
FALLON: No, no, thank you so much.
MORGAN: They're not funny, they're just not terrible.
FALLON: Then --
MORGAN: Talking "Saturday Night Live" Taran Killam, we -- I have an issue with this guy, because he does this impression of me, which he --
FALLON: My favorite thing --
MORGAN: -- you loved it last time you were here.
FALLON: He did it and he's fantastic. He does --
MORGAN: I don't speak like that.
FALLON: Yes, you do.
MORGAN: No, I don't. FALLON: Piers, you do that.
MORGAN: No, I don't.
FALLON: You go -- now, now, tell me what -- what -- president, how do you persuade -- and then glass --
MORGAN: You're making me sound --
FALLON: -- glass --
MORGAN: -- like a jibbering idiot.
FALLON: -- glass shatters somewhere.
FALLON: No, Taran Killam is this guy on "Saturday Night Live" that does the best impression of you. And I told you last night, I go you've got -- I think we were in a commercial break when I said you've got to see this guy, because he did a sketch it was cut. And it's going to be on next time. All year long, it's going to be -- you're going to be --
MORGAN: He's even mastered my, you know, coming after the break --
FALLON: It's a very high --
FALLON: He's phenomenally good.
MORGAN: Can I -- what it does, it makes you paranoid.
MORGAN: I now watch it and then I start to perform like he does, as me. I'm morphing into Taran Killam's version of myself.
FALLON: You know who did that for me, in -- in a good way, but Jerry Seinfeld was on "Saturday Night Live." And I do an impression of Jerry Seinfeld and it's OK. It's not -- it's not great, by any means. But he is a nice enough guy. He raised his impression to match my voice.
So we did a bit about The Gap or something. They were selling these pants. They were like culottes for men, like these -- these so-called beach pants.
And I was going like, who buys these beach pants? No guy wants to wear them to the beach. It's ridiculous.
I'm yelling. And he's looking at me like this is not what I sound like at all. But he's going like, I know, I love the Gap. You take the shirt off. What? You refold it? This place is great. I love this store. You know and you -- and it was just that type of thing that like I'll never forget that. He's a good guy.
MORGAN: What is -- before we go to the break --
FALLON: Before we go to the break.
MORGAN: Before we do that --
MORGAN: Yes. What is the --
FALLON: What -- what is --
MORGAN: -- if you had three minutes left in your life and you could only impersonate one person -- in other words, this is going to be your last impression --
FALLON: Why would I --
MORGAN: -- who would it be?
FALLON: -- why would I impersonate someone with three minutes left --
MORGAN: I'll tell you --
FALLON: -- of my life?
I want to show God my act?
MORGAN: Don't be so American literal about this.
FALLON: I don't want to --
MORGAN: Just go with the flow.
FALLON: I'd want to spend time with loved ones.
MORGAN: Oh, you boring little --
FALLON: But I will talk like this the whole time. I love you. We're down to two-and-a-half minutes.
MORGAN: Let's go to a break now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FALLON: She was great.
MORGAN: Jimmy Fallon and The Roots performing the immortal "Call Me Maybe" with Carly Rae Jepsen on NBC's "Late Night."
And Jimmy is back with me now.
FALLON: What a great song that is.
MORGAN: I can't decide if you're the beginning of the future of the music business or the beginning of the end of the music business.
FALLON: Yes. Well, maybe it's on -- the answer is on one of these cards that you have laid out on this table.
FALLON: Can you get more index cards laid out?
MORGAN: So this "Call Me Maybe," even my kids back in England, who wouldn't necessarily know who you are, now know you're the guy from the "Call Me Maybe" clip, because two million hits on YouTube.
FALLON: It's -- it's --
MORGAN: You've become famous.
FALLON: It's a -- it's amazing. You're like it's -- it's -- our show is -- that's why I'm happy that we got a chance to put the CD out, because a lot of people don't stay up late enough to watch our show and they don't see the fun stuff that we do on our show and how -- how fun it is and a lot of the musical stuff we do.
So I remember the first time we went viral. We don't plan on going viral. We don't know if something is going to hit or not. It's just up to the world.
And so Justin Timberlake and I did the history of rap. And we rapped all these songs from the '80s up until now. And we did it live with The Roots. It was so fun.
And then the next day, it just, whoo, exploded on the Web.
MORGAN: You -- people may not have seen you, because you are late night. But there is a growing little buzz around town that maybe it's time you were on a little earlier on NBC, like 11:30 or something.
FALLON: Not -- it's not -- the buzz is not coming from me. I -- I like being where I am. I don't -- it doesn't matter to me.
MORGAN: Would you turn down the "Tonight Show" if you were offered it?
FALLON: No, I wouldn't turn it down.
MORGAN: Is it -- is it the Holy Grail?
MORGAN: Really? FALLON: I don't think so. I don't think people --
MORGAN: Hasn't it always been the Holy Grail as a -- as a talk show host in America?
FALLON: I think it's the story around it, but it's not. I mean I think someone said it -- they said like the "Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson was Johnny Carson. That was that show. This is the "Tonight Show" with Jay Leno and that's his show.
And then if it ends up being the "Tonight Show" with Jimmy Falcon -- I changed my name. I'm going to change my name, because he's cooler.
And -- no, but I don't know, it's like I -- I -- I -- it does -- it doesn't -- time slots don't matter to me, especially that late at night. Like either you do the show and you work hard and keep your head down and have fun with it --
MORGAN: Now, I want to get you to sing.
MORGAN: Because one of my favorite bits of this whole album is when you get together with The Doors.
MORGAN: You perform "Reading Rainbow" and apparently it gets completely out of hand.
FALLON: Well, it's a --
MORGAN: So I'd like you to play out this show with "Reading Rainbow" with you as Jim Morrison.
FALLON: So this is as if The Doors were to sing the theme song to "Reading Rainbow."
So it just kind of starts out -- we were just goofing off in my writers' room. We were just kind of like --
MORGAN: I genuinely fear for his sanity.
The great Jimmy Fallon.
Jimmy, thank you so much.
We'll be back.
FALLON: It was a pleasure to be here.
(SINGING) MORGAN: "1979," a killer song from the Smashing Pumpkins. The band's been churning out hits for years, selling 30 million albums and achieving worldwide fame. Their new album "Oceania" -- I knew I'd get it wrong.
BILLY CORGAN, THE SMASHING PUMPKINS: They actually said you'd get it wrong.
MORGAN: I know. "Oceania" is out today. Billy Corgan is the founder and front man for the Smashing Pumpkins and joins me now. Welcome, Billy.
MORGAN: I was expecting like a smoldering volcano when they booked you. I thought this angry man of rock would come in --
CORGAN: I'm sure you'll get to it, Piers. You're very good at that.
MORGAN: -- sort of Mike Tyson of music, you know, like this undercurrent of menace across the desk. You seem quite affable to me.
CORGAN: Well, I like your show. So that has a lot to do with it. You know? I talk to a lot of people, I don't respect them. And so I walk into the room with that.
MORGAN: Well, that actually means a lot to me.
CORGAN: I've seen you do some great interview. And I think for somebody who has been interviewed a lot -- and I know people in my business should understand there's the right interview and there's the -- you start phoning it in because it's just robot language.
MORGAN: What is the kind of interview that absolutely sends you demented?
CORGAN: It's -- they Google. They just Google you and then they just go with all the headlines. They don't actually get -- to me, if you're talking to an artist, it's such a rare opportunity to get into the mind of the artist. And the greatest interviewers, people like you and Charlie Rose, they penetrate into a place where you go OK, now I understand why they're like that. That's what I want to know as a fan of somebody.
MORGAN: What do you think of America right now?
CORGAN: You're starting right off there.
MORGAN: Yeah. I'm interested in your view of the country.
CORGAN: I'm very disappointed in my country right now, because I think we've kind of lost our moral compass. We've turned into a whining society. Listen, I have done plenty of whining in my life. But I think at some point we have to get out of this paternalistic churn we're in, where we want daddy to come and save us and the banks to come and save us. We need to get back to a level of social responsibility that we haven't seen for a long time.
I'm just an artist. I can only do so much. I can only say so much. I'm not a hero, but I'm disappointed. The level of political and cultural rhetoric is so low, it's kind of shocking. Everybody seems to be okay with it. Well, that's just the way it goes. I'm sorry, but I see -- I'm from the lower middle class. I see the middle class hollowing out. I see my families -- people in my family really struggling. I know so many people struggling.
And yet we're still arguing about these kind of really stupid, nuancy things which political commentators know are BS, but they kind of play along. Well, that's political theater. Meanwhile, it's affecting real people with real lives and families. That's really hard for me to watch.
MORGAN: Your comment about paternal and maternal responsibility -- you, of course, grew up in a weird situation where both of your natural parents kind of distanced themselves from you at a very young age and left you just to run your life as you could. How much has that guided your sense of people not being reliant on their parents?
CORGAN: That's a really good question. I don't know. I think we all take our experiences -- and from a spiritual point of view, it's whether or not we transmute those experiences into something positive, you know. For a lot of years, I just complained. And I looked like a very unhappy rock star.
And then one day I woke up and I thought I had a different responsibility in this world. I don't know if it was being in my 30s or something. I started thinking about the world differently and seeing my place in it, and started thinking wow, you know, my record sales versus what's really going on in my country or the world. I mean, I've got to get some proportionality here.
Once I started doing that, I started seeing the world with much different eyes.
MORGAN: Politically, you've been -- I wouldn't say vague, but nobody has ever really been able to pin you down. Are you an Obama man at heart?
CORGAN: No, no. I was basically raised a Democrat, in essence, in a somewhat liberal family. When you grow up around drug addicts and freaks, you tend to lean left, you know. I remember, as a kid, it was a lot of anti-Nixon stuff. In essence, in my family's mind, the '50s archetype of the shutdown alcoholic male worked with the Republican party for a while. It was like -- but I also remember my grandmother Connie sitting in front of the TV when Reagan was nominate nominated, before he was president -- nominated for the candidacy and crying, saying he's going to bring this country back.
So I had that experience. My grandmother was an immigrant from Italy. And I saw real tears in her eyes because she thought Reagan was going to restore this country to whatever she thought. So I've lived in both paradigms. I'm at the point now where I don't trust either political party. I don't see a reasonable third party independent run from anybody who is rational and going to get there.
But the choices we have are so compromised, I just don't get it. But again, that seems -- everybody wants the theatre more than they want the reality.
MORGAN: What is the kind of leader that you're craving in an American president?
CORGAN: Moral compass. And that's where I'm disappointed in the president, is he ran on a moral compass agenda. But what happened? I'm sure there's lots of good reasons and I'm sure they'll roll somebody out to counter thoughts like that, but I don't see it. And I travel the world and so do you. I've seen foreigners really shift on their view of America. And that's hard for me to take.
I still believe in my country. I know that the working class of this country is what this country is really about. That's where I grew up. That's my people. When I see them broken down, that's hard to watch.
MORGAN: I saw the premier of Aaron Sorkin's new drama "News Room," which is based around a cable news show like this, starring Jeff Daniels. I watched it last night. And it was -- Jeff Daniels character makes this kind of polemic speech to a bunch of students. And the point he makes -- he's asked about what he thinks about America. He says that it's completely wrong to say America is still the greatest country in the world. It used to be. And it can be again.
But actually statistically, if you look at all the criteria, education, science, literally, et cetera, et cetera, America is lagging way behind now many countries. What do you think?
CORGAN: I agree. I don't see the vigorous democracy -- not democratic -- the vigorous democracy that I was raised to believe in. And I don't understand where that went. Now, does that mean that somebody wants that debate to go down because it's easier to control, you know, an archaized people? Or is it just we're all so stuck in our phones now that we don't have time to care about the reality of our country?
I don't really totally understand all the causal effects. I have theories, but --
MORGAN: One theory could be, of course, the celebrification of America and, in fact, most of the civilized world and politics. Maybe that's part of the problem. Let's take a break. I want you to hang on to that thought. How much can we blame celebrities? Let's start naming a few.
MORGAN: Back with the Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan. That track is "the Celestials" from the band's new album "Oceania," which was released today. I got it right that time. Congratulations, Piers. I finally get the guy's album title correct.
Let's talk about celebrities. It seems to me you flirt on both sides of this fence. You've been --
CORGAN: Literally flirted with celebrities.
MORGAN: Instantly, I would have thought somebody like you would rail against the whole Paris Hilton genre of celebrity for being talentless, even though I like her -- talentless, but made themselves very famous. You've been matey with her. You've been matey with other stars of that genre.
CORGAN: That's true.
MORGAN: So what is --
CORGAN: I've even rolled in the hey with a few of them.
MORGAN: I know you have. Do you want to name how many you've rolled in the hay with?
CORGAN: More than one and less than five.
MORGAN: Jessica Simpson was one, right? Did you actually roll in the hay with her?
CORGAN: She actually has a hay bale in her bedroom.
CORGAN: And the left over cowboy hat from the movie.
MORGAN: So a little part of you is drawn to these stars.
CORGAN: Absolutely. I think -- I grew up in the 1970s. And, you know, "Dallas" and "Gilligan's Island," I mean, I love American culture in that way. It's when it's risen to this other kind of psychotic level that's kind of frightening, especially some of the messages it sends young women, and then the way it sort of reverts back on to celebrities, as if they're supposed to carry some sort of mantle.
Somebody like Jessica, who can't even gain five pounds or lose five pounds without creating a headline -- I mean, you can say whatever you want, whether you're a fan or not. But to put a woman in that position, that's not her creating that position. And I don't want to hear this argument that they're celebrities whores. It's a little more complicated than that.
Now I give credit to people like Paris and Kim Kardashian for creating an industry out of their -- people's obsessed with them. That's American. Great. God bless them. It's the people who pretend they're not that that make me crazy.
MORGAN: Does it -- here's why I have an issue with it. And I actually like both Paris and Kim. Interviewed them several times. I like them. I see no problem with them doing the best that they can. They both work very hard at it. But is there a problem fundamentally with a society and a culture which puts people like that on a pedestal, in the sense that it inevitably chips away at the mystique of people who perhaps are more deserving of star status?
You go back 50 years and you have the great actors and singers, the only way you could be famous in that era was to be genuinely world- class talented. And that's gone.
CORGAN: And even if you look at Hollywood, the way Hollywood beauty standards have shifted -- we've gone to Lauren Bacalls like "Girl Next Door." Now there's nothing wrong wit "Girl Next Door," but the American public has become sort of me obsessed and that's where I think the projected thing happens. They want to project -- it's easier for them to project on somebody like Kim Kardashian than it is like Linda Evangelista, who is one of the most beautiful women in the world. It's like there's a next door neighbor kind of snippy, bitchy quality to it.
MORGAN: What do you fee about Twitter? You're an active Twitter.
MORGAN: The thing is you can't help but read all the terrible stuff on there, which is one of the downsides, which I sort of enjoy. You had a great quote. You said "the Internet has made every one Archie Bunker," which I love, because it effectively has. The flip side is that every one now has a voice, if they want, on Twitter. Why shouldn't they have a voice? Why shouldn't their opinion, their Tweets be as valuable to the world as yours or mine?
CORGAN: I have no problem with that. I have a problem when -- if you talk to most people, they have a hard time understanding what social responsibility means. You know what I mean? Like I'm out there and I understand the social responsibility and the position I have. I don't just say anything I want.
MORGAN: Tell me quickly about "Oceania." It's out now. What do you feel about this album?
CORGAN: What's interesting about it in my life is I made some great albums in the '90s and -- which become sort of almost like a mill stone around my neck. You'll never reach that height again. You'll never do it. You need the old band. Then I make an album that's just as good as those albums, and they're wait a second, OK you did -- now the question is why did you step making these kinds of albums.
And they can't understand the cultural aspects to be an artists and suddenly be in the downturn of the music business, have fans start making it about the past. And then you find yourself kind of reacting and rejecting against those expectations.
Only through maturity and a little bit of spiritual revolution have I realized that I was diminishing myself, on some level, to try to answer some question that I could answer. And so this is just my way of saying, I could have done this all along. And now I'm in a good place where I can do this. And I like it because it's high communication in a simple way, and it's not like -- you know, sometimes you want to be weird and arty -- this isn't it. It's just straight up the middle, and it's just good music.
MORGAN: It's a terrific album. You are true to yourself. And that is an unusual quality in many musicians in my experience, certainly of the modern type. So I wish you all the very best with it. It's been a pleasure.
CORGAN: Thank you for having me. Thank you.
MORGAN: Next, Only in America gives you the ultimate light show.
MORGAN: For tonight's Only in America, all that glitters. The PBS series "America Revealed" is giving us extraordinary new images of this vast country, pictures taken from space, pictures that glow with the pulse of everyday life. Those blue streaks crisscrossing Manhattan are GPS trails of pizza delivery men, carrying pie after pie on their bikes, many apparently heading towards my apartment.
This is a typical Friday evening in the city. That's a lot of pizza. And it takes an army of trucks to bring all the ingredients to Manhattan. This image shows a Dominos pizza network, the enormous nationwide supply chain, the dough, the sauce, the cheese, refrigerated in the backs of trucks and tracked by satellites.
And here serving the world. America's food exports and imports seen from miles above. The beams of life show what is entering the country on a given day and what is leaving. Quite amazing images.
This image is both startling and sobering. The dots tell a bleak story, that of a number of job losses in America. As you can see, states like California, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania among the hardest hit.
And finally the energy. This is America's power grid, the network visualized as never before. It's incredibly impressive. It's positively electrifying. And above all, it's very American.
That's all for us tonight.