When Curtiss A sings “In My Life” at tonight’s John Lennon Tribute at First Avenue, it will conclude an impressive run of the rendition that started for the Dean O’ Scream on Dec. 9, 1980, on the local entertainment cable staple “Night Times Variety” just hours after the former Beatle was slain outside his apartment in New York City.
Since then, Curt has sung it every Dec. 8 at his reliably powerful Lennon tribute, and in recent months Curt has sung the Lennon-McCartney-penned tune at the funerals of his friends Bruce Allen, Kevin Foley, Steve Foley and Buck Hazlett and his children, causing friends to dub Curt “The Funeral Singer.”
Tonight, the Minnesota rock legend will dedicate “In My Life,” which Mojo magazine in 2003 deemed the best song ever written, to a special guest: himself.
“I had a stroke last month, so we’re doing it for me because I almost died, and make sure you say, ‘he laughed,’ ” said Curt, who laughed.
“Sometimes I sing it at weddings. I don’t know if I agree with [Mojo’s listing], but I do find it quite poignant. We do it in tandem with ‘Here, There, and Everywhere,’ and those kinds of songs are devoid of hopelessness. They’re the opposite of that. They’re like Christmas carols, or something.
” ‘In My Life’ has a beginning and ending, a bridge, and it’s pretty and poignant, and usually it makes people cry. I remember doing it years ago for someone’s funeral way back when [Suburbs co-founder] Chan [Poling] played the piano for me and I stood out in the audience, or in the congregation, and sang it from there. That was the first time I sang it at a funeral.
“If somebody wants me to do that, it’s an honor. So that’s what I’m thinking. It’s not hard to sing a song, but it’s hard to say goodbye to someone you love. It doesn’t scare me to sing a song, but afterwards I’m glad it’s over. It’s not like a gig. At a gig you’re trying to entertain people; at a funeral or wedding you’re trying to touch a soul.
“It’s always a little transcendent. When it’s happening, it’s somewhat daunting. I think I choked up most at Buck’s because you don’t want to be doing that because it’s your friend. Plus, now I’m old. Just waiting. The terrible thing about surviving all this time is that all your friends are dead, and the countdown for you really begins.”
The 32nd Annual John Lennon Tribute starts at 7 tonight with an hour-long set from Curtiss A and a little help from his friends, followed by an 8 p.m. performance of The Minnesota Beatles Project, followed by the Lennon-Curt band “until they kick us out.“