My Funny Valentine
"My Funny Valentine" is a show tune from the 1937 Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart musical Babes in Arms in which it was introduced by former child star Mitzi Green. The song became a popular jazz standard, appearing on over 1300 albums performed by over 600 artists. One of them was Chet Baker, for whom it became his signature song. In 2015, it was announced that the Gerry Mulligan quartet featuring Chet Baker's version of the song was inducted into the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry for the song's "cultural, artistic and/or historical significance to American society and the nation’s audio legacy". Mulligan also recorded the song with his Concert Jazz Band in 1960.
|"My Funny Valentine"|
|Published||1937 by Chappell & Co.|
The song is in minor, with a bridge in the relative major. Frank Sinatra recorded the song in B minor, and the theatrical version was also in B minor. Ella Fitzgerald recorded the song in G minor. C minor is convenient for instrumentalists, and used here. The spelling of chords (especially chords embellished beyond the triad) varies.
Here is the chord progression in the key of C minor:
The second A section follows a similar progression, but the last two bars are replaced with a minor ii-V in Eb heading into the bridge.
The bridge is in the relative major and speeds up the harmonic progression to 2 chords per measure:
|Ebmaj7 Fm7||Gm7 Fm7||Ebmaj7 Fm7||Gm7 Fm7|
|Ebmaj7 G7||Cm7 Bbm7 A7||Abmaj7||D⌀7 G7|
The last A section is extended by 4 bars:
|Abmaj7||D⌀7 G7(b9)||Cm7||Bbm7 A7|
|Abmaj7||Fm7 Bb7(b9)||Eb6||D⌀7 G7|
Babes in Arms opened at the Shubert Theatre on Broadway, in New York City on April 14, 1937 and ran for 289 performances. In the original play, a character named Billie Smith (played by Mitzi Green) sings the song to Valentine "Val" LaMar (played by Ray Heatherton). The character's name was changed to match the lyric of this song.
In the song, Billie describes Valentine's characteristics in unflattering and derogatory terms (at one point Billie describes Valentine's looks as "laughable", in keeping with the title), but ultimately affirms that he makes her smile and that she doesn't want him to change. The description of Valentine was consistent with Lorenz Hart's own insecurities and belief that he was too short and ugly to be loved. (The lyrics are sufficiently gender-neutral to allow the song to conversely be sung about either gender, and a large proportion of cover versions of the song have been by men describing a hypothetical woman.)
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