Though he's one of the most successful pop stars in history, Elton John says he's given up on the idea of making hit records now that he's 59.

"Our day in the sun has gone, as far as radio play goes," John told an audience Wednesday night. "And we're OK with that."

He and longtime writing partner, Bernie Taupin, are now focused on making excellent songs, John said, and he previewed their new efforts while celebrating their old favorites at a concert to benefit his charity, The Elton John Foundation.

"OK, now we've come to the scary bit -- for us, and maybe for you," he joked before playing the new material.

During the 2 1/2-hour concert, held at Jazz at Lincoln Center's intimate Frederick P. Rose Hall, John explained the inspiration behind the songs on "The Captain and the Kid," due out Sept. 19. He said it is a complement to his classic 1975 album, "Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy."

"It was really an album about how we struggle with failure," John said. "The next 36 years were about struggling with success."

Among the songs he debuted were "Tinderbox," which referenced the struggles Taupin and John have shared as creative partners, and "Wouldn't Have You Any Other Way (NYC)," a tribute to New York.

He also played many of his biggest hits, including "Tiny Dancer," "Rocket Man," "Bennie and the Jets" and "Believe," about the power of love, which he said spoke to the climate in the world today.

"We live in a funny old world at the moment and this song says everything I want to say about the situation," he said.

John was to perform at the Fashion Rocks concert at Radio City Music Hall on Thursday night, along with Beyonce, Kanye West, Nelly Furtado, the Black Eyed Peas and others.

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