Elton John admits he cried listening to 'Yellow Brick Road' album again

Sir Elton John's album "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," released 40 years ago, was a huge breakthrough for the flamboyant singer/songwriter. The album sold more than 30 million copies — and even today, is powerful enough to bring John to tears.

During the first part of a chat with TODAY's Matt Lauer Monday, John explained that he'd listened to the record in anticipation of doing interviews about it. The experience, he said, "Made me very emotional. I cried a little at it, because it reminded me of a time when I was very innocent."

But "Road's" success was also a gateway into a downward spiral for the then 26-year-old, who began abusing drugs and alcohol after fame swept over him. John has now been sober for more than two decades, and has regrets but no anger. 

"I don't blame anything," he said. "I don't blame anybody or anything. It was just me being inquisitive. ... 'I'll join in. I'll be part of the gang.' Bad decision. If I could go back again, I would never do it."

Maybe not the addiction, but John, 67, would still be making music, his "soul mate." He told Lauer music has been with him through "sadness, through laughter, through love." 

On Tuesday, the second part of John's interview with TODAY airs, and he'll discuss his upcoming nuptials with partner David Furnish. The pair plan to wed as early as May, now that gay marriage is legal in England.

"We'll do it very quietly," John told Lauer. "But we will do it and it will be a joyous occasion and we will have our children." They have two kidstogether, Zachary, 3, and Elijah, 1. 

"I'm very proud of Britain and the laws that we've seen come into existence since we've been together," John said. "Having our civil partnership was an incredible breakthrough for people that have campaigned for a long time — through the '60s and the '50s in England when it was so hard to be gay and hard to be open about it. And it was a criminal act. So for this legislation to come through is joyous, and we should celebrate it. We shouldn't just say, 'Oh, well we have a civil partnership. We're not going to bother to get married.' We will get married."

The pair have been in a civil partnership since 2005, which John said had a "huge impact" on their commitment. "We didn't think it would make much difference to our relationship, but it solidified our relationship." 

Meanwhile, John continues to be as involved in his other relationship — making music — as ever.

"I love it as much now as I did," he said. "I don't like the fame part of it, and I don't like the technology part of it so much. But, the thrill of the music will never die for me ... when you hear somebody young, like Lorde, or someone like that, making a record like she did, and you think, 'You're 16,' I am flabbergasted. And it makes you want to write the best song in the world, because you just cannot believe that this music has come out of someone so young, and so brilliant."

  • Slideshow Photos

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    Image: Elton John In Concert - New York, New York

    The life and career of Sir Elton John

    As Sir Elton John marks the 40th anniversary of the release of his landmark album "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," take a look back at the entertainment legend's life and accomplishments.

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    Can you feel the love tonight -

    As Sir Elton John marks the 40th anniversary of the release of his landmark album “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” take a look back at the entertainment legend’s life and accomplishments.

    In this photo, Sir Elton John gets a supportive smooch from singer Lady Gaga at the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s 22nd annual Academy Awards Viewing Party in Los Angeles on March 2, 2014.

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    Long-running charity effort -

    Sir Elton John and his spouse, David Furnish, speak onstage at the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s 22nd annual Academy Awards Viewing Party on March 2, 2014. John started the foundation in the early 1990s to support HIV prevention and treatment and to eliminate stigmas associated with HIV and AIDS.

    Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images for EJAF
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    Love from the crowd -

    Sir Elton John, center, wears a tutu as he joins cast members of the stage musical “Billy Elliot” for their curtain call following the show's premiere in Toronto on March 1, 2011.

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    Headlining in Vegas -

    Sir Elton John performs during his final "The Red Piano" show at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace on April 22, 2009 in Las Vegas. He played 241 concerts in the 4,300-seat showroom after becoming one of the resort's resident headliners in February 2004.

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    Lifelong contributions -

    The 27th annual Kennedy Center Honorees pose at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 4, 2004: back row, from left to right, Warren Beatty, Ossie Davis, John Williams; front row, Sir Elton John, Ruby Dee and Joan Sutherland. The Kennedy Center Honors recognize people who have made significant contributions to American culture through the performing arts.

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    Stepping out -

    Sir Elton John and David Furnish attend the 61st annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Jan. 25, 2004. The couple have been together since 1993.

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    Part of history -

    Sir Elton John and Courtney Love perform at a benefit party for The Old Vic theater in London on Feb. 5, 2003. The Old Vic first opened in 1818.

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    Speaking out -

    Sir Elton John greets Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., as he arrives on Capitol Hill on April 11, 2002 to testify on AIDS around the world before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., can be seen at left, and Sandy Thurman, president of the International AIDS Trust, is second from right.

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    'The hug heard 'round the world' -

    Sir Elton John and Eminem appear together after performing a duet near the end of the 43rd annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 21, 2001 in Los Angeles. While anti-gay sentiments have been entrenched in hip-hop for decades and Eminem has faced critcism for offensive lyrics toward homosexuals, Eminem joined Jay-Z in saying people of the same sex should be able to love one another.

    Kevork Djansezian / AP
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    Starring as himself -

    Sir Elton John appeared on "The Simpsons" as himself in the episode "I'm with Cupid" in 1999. He sang a slightly modified version of "Your Song" as a Valentine's Day gift from Apu to Manjula.

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    Remembering Princess Diana -

    Elton John plays a specially rewritten version of his song "Candle in the Wind" during the funeral service for his friend Princess Diana at London's Westminster Abbey on Sept. 6, 1997. Released in 1973, “Candle in the Wind” was originally written as a tribute to Marilyn Monroe.

    Paul Hackett / AP
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    A year of loss -

    Princess Diana traveled to Milan for the memorial service of Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace on July 22, 1997. At the service, Diana comforted Elton John six weeks before he sang at her own funeral.

    Luca Bruno / AP
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    Singing with Pavarotti -

    Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti and British rock star Elton John, left, sing together at the "Pavarotti & Friends for War Children" charity concert in Modena, Italy on June 20, 1996. In 1998, Queen Elizabeth II knighted John for "services to music and charitable services."

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    Making music in Moscow -

    Elton John performs at the Kremlin Palace of Congresses in Moscow on June 6, 1995. The British rock legend flew in to Moscow just two hours before his first concert began.

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    Honoring Queen's front man -

    British singer Elton John, left, and American musician Axl Rose perform at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert at Wembley Stadium in London on April 20, 1992.

    Gillian Allen / AP
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    Charitable work -

    Elton John is joined on stage by AIDS patients Ryan White, left, and Jason Robertson on July 9, 1988 at the "For the Love of Children" benefit in Los Angeles for children with AIDS and other serious illnesses.

    Alan Greth / AP
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    Wedding day -

    Elton John and his new wife, German sound technician Renate Blauel, are pictured together after their wedding in Sydney, Australia on Feb. 14, 1984. After the marriage ended in 1988, John told Rolling Stone magazine that he was "comfortable" being gay.

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    Behind the Iron Curtain -

    Elton John is pictured in the Soviet Union on May 21, 1979. He was one of the first Western solo artists to tour the Soviet Union.

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    Dressed 'like a stolen car' -

    Elton John appears on “The Muppet Show” in 1977, Sam the Eagle says he is appalled by the flashy guest star who "dresses like a stolen car." Kermit points out that musicians as celebrated as Mozart have always dressed extravagantly, but Sam confidently bets that it is untrue. Unfortunately for Sam, he is proven wrong and must introduce the closing number wearing an outfit that rivals John’s for its flashiness.

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    Laughing with Liz -

    Actress Elizabeth Taylor tries on a pair of Elton John's signature spectacles as they stand backstage at the Spectrum theater in Philadelphia on July 7, 1976.

    David Nutter / AP
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    On the rise -

    Elton John poses for a photograph at his home in Surrey, England in 1975.

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    Taking the stage in 'Tommy' -

    Elton John, center, appears with John Entwistle and Roger Daltrey in the 1975 theatrical adaptation of The Who’s rock opera “Tommy.” John performed the song “Pinball Wizard” in the production.

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    Going glam -

    Elton John performs on stage in 1974 shortly after the release of his critically acclaimed album "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road." That October 1973 release included the hits "Bennie and the Jets," "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," "Candle in the Wind" and "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting."

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    Chilling out -

    Elton John relaxes on a sofa with headphones on September 1974.

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    'Born to Boogie' -

    Elton John appears in “Born to Boogie,” a 1972 film centered around a concert at Wembley Empire Pool and starring Ringo Starr of The Beatles and Marc Bolan of the British rock band T. Rex. Directed by Starr, the movie features concert footage and recording studio scenes with Starr and John.

    Apple Corp. via Everett Collection
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    Starting out -

    Elton John is pictured in his mid-20s in 1971.

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Tune in Tuesday on TODAY for the second installment of the two-part interview. 

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