TODAY

TODAY   |  March 31, 2014

Elton John: Music’s ‘been my soul mate’

Legendary singer Elton John sits down with TODAY’s Matt Lauer to talk about his remarkable career, and his plans for a springtime wedding. “I’ve been very lucky, I’ve been very blessed,” he says.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> this. elton john released "good-bye yellow brick road " 40 years ago. with classics like " candle in the wind " and " bennie and the jets ," a lot say it was his finest album. we sat down at the coliseum of caesar's palace in las vegas where elton 's performing for the next month. and we talked about life and music .

>> who would've known i'd be around playing this album for 40 years on. i've been very lucky. i've been very blessed.

>> it was an album that would catapult elton john into superstardom. selling more than 30 million records and topping the charts for an incredible eight weeks. elton had a few hits before good-bye yellow brick road , but this was so much bigger than anything that had come before.

>> people were supposed to know what they were talking about. the music critics and analysts have said this is your best album . do you agree with that?

>> not necessarily. but it was the finest album -- it's the most pop album i've ever done. it was the right time and the right place. it was momentum. it was happenstance, it was luck.

>> and like so many of us, the music man himself admits that the sound track takes him back to another time and another place.

>> you know, i'm not someone who normally looks back. i'm not someone who gets nostalgic. but i had to listen to this album because i had to do interviews about it. it made me very emotional. i cried a little at it. because it reminded me of a time when i was very innocent. i hadn't done a drug.

>> elton was just 26 at the time and after he skyrocketed to fame, he spiralled downward into years of alcohol and drug abuse . he's been clean and sober now for more than two decades.

>> was it being catapulted into the stratosphere that made you lose your way? should you in some ways blame this album?

>> no. i don't blame anything. i don't blame anybody or anything. it was me being inquisitive. okay. i'll try it. and i'll join in. i'll be part of the gang. bad decisions. if i could go back again, i would never do it.

>> i was 16 --

>> right.

>> and i was working part-time in a record store and i was saving my money so i could buy records and i might have even gotten a discount on this, but i bought the record. and from the moment i heard " bennie and the jets ," it's one of my favorite songs still. when you read the lyrics, what did you think?

>> it was a bit like a painting in a way, it's not a normal song or lyric, it's about an all girl band . and they're weird and they're wonderful. and turned out to be the first number one r & b record on the radio.

>> put you on soul train .

>> that was for me just a joyous experience. and it's weird, the chemistry that bernie and i have together. he gives me a lyric and i don't have to know, i go " bennie and the jets ," the first course. there was a book written about music and it said the only songs that can be identified by the first chord is " bennie and the jets ." and that's what i did. shake it loose together known to change the weather

>> did you have a mental image of bennie?

>> yeah. and then as bernie said, when robert palmer did the video with all the girls in it. that was bennie and the jets .

>> and " candle in the wind ," first a tribute to marilyn monroe . later rewritten as the world mourned for princess diana . it is the best selling single of all time.

>> sometimes a song just keeps having a life. there's a track which samples the song. i love that. for me, it's such a flattering thing for an artist to do to sample your music .

>> and you can tell everybody. go ahead and tell everybody i'm the man i'm the man i'm the man

>> you said you didn't think your music was relevant anymore. it's a complete contradiction. there's a case in point that proves you're wrong. most of the people you have playing with you on this re-release of this double album weren't even born when it came out. and yet they jumped at the change to play the songs, which means it's relevant to them.

>> i'm talking about things like "the diving board " and things like that. a song is always relevant if it's a good song.

>> i'm going to share with you a recent telegraph description of you. described you as, quote, the vir virtuoso musician, comes across as one of the least tortured artists you could imagine.

>> that's very nice. yeah. i'm not tortured at all. i'm happy. i'm 67, i love it as much now as i did -- the thrill of the music will never die for me. you know, it's a never ending story of love and music 's been my love for all of my life. it's been there from when i was 3 years old and it's been my companion through sadness, through laughter, through love. and it's been my soul mate for all of my life.

>> always good music on that album.

>> amazing. it's nice to see him so happy and at peace. and it's a great place in life.

>> and still relevant today. so much so.

>> we're going to have more of that interview with elton tomorrow. we're going to talk about his may wedding plans, the vegas nightclub he runs with his partner, and what it's like raising two young sons.