​Elton John celebrates his wonderful life with song

The singer has released his 33rd studio album, the buoyant "Wonderful Crazy Night."

CBS News

ELTON JOHN is a music legend ... not to mention a legendary Oscar night party host. He's about to throw yet another of his parties, but only after sitting down with our Anthony Mason.

For nearly half a century he's been one of music's most flamboyant performers, but Sir Elton John was uneasy when he took the stage at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles last month:

"The audience wouldn't have known it, but I was so nervous last night, which I think is probably a good thing," he said.

He has more than 50 Top 40 hits, but this night Sir Elton was also debuting some new songs. "And you can't really play more than three or four, because the audience really doesn't want to know."

"What is that feeling like?" Mason asked.

"Horrible! It's like, 'Oh, I've written this song and I really like it, and you're going to the toilet.'"

On "Wonderful Crazy Night," Sir Elton's 33rd studio album, the singer says he wanted to celebrate his wonderful life.

"I wanted a joyous tone," he said. "I wanted an Elton John '70s record that sounded as if it was made now."

To hear Elton John perform "In the Name of You," from "Wonderful Crazy Night," click on the player below.

His lyricist for this record is the same songwriting partner he's had for 49 years now, Bernie Taupin.

They met before Elton was Elton, when young Reginald Dwight answered an ad seeking songwriters.

"When I look back on my little shy self, I can't believe I actually had the balls to do it, but I did," he said.

The record label paired him with Taupin; they clicked immediately.

"If I hadn't made the decision of going, my life would have been completely different," Sir Elton said.

"We lived at my parents' apartment in North London. He became the brother I never had. I love Bernie. Not in a carnal way, but in the most emotional, beautiful way."

Apart from a short separation in the late '70s, they've worked together ever since, becoming one of the most successful songwriting teams in history.

Mason asked, "When Bernie brings you a lyric, do you ask him to explain it?"

"No, never."

"So you don't know what 'Levon' is about?"

And Jesus, he wants to go to Venus
Leaving Levon far behind
Take a balloon and go sailing
While Levon, Levon slowly dies

He was born a pauper to a pawn on a Christmas day
When the New York Times said God is dead
And the war's begun
Alvin Tostig has a son today.

"No, but I mean, I've got my own idea," Sir Elton said. "And every time I sing it, I have this vision going on in my mind. But that's the magic of those lyrics, because every time you sing it, you think about something different.

"And even in 'Your Song,' I mean, I never get fed up with that. It's the most beautiful love song. Now I sing it, and when I think of it, I'm thinking about David or I'm thinking about my boys."

"It's so hard for songwriting teams to stay together."

"They're so acrimonious sometimes. The thing with him and I is, we dropped our egos."

"How did you do that? Why did you do that?"

"Because it was necessary," Sir Elton said. "We've never -- and this is on my childrens' life -- ever had an argument. Ever."

"Why?"

"There's no point! He's had harsh words with me when I haven't been behaving myself. He's told me the truth. But it's never been an argument."

Elton went through an especially dark period in the Eighties, when he battled drugs and depression.

Mason asked, "When you were dealing with your drug problem, how did you keep going?"