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. 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.[1]

"My Funny Valentine"
Published1937 by Chappell & Co.
Composer(s)Richard Rodgers
Lyricist(s)Lorenz Hart


The song is usually performed in C minor, although for vocalists the key of B minor is fairly common. 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.

The song follows the following chord progression (in the key of C minor):

Cm Cm(M7) Cm7 Cm6
Abmaj7/C Fm7 D⌀7 G7(b9)

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.

Cm Cm(M7) Cm7 Cm6
Abmaj7/C Fm7 F⌀7 Bb7(b9)

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:

Cm Cm(M7) Cm7 Cm6
Abmaj7 D⌀7 G7(b9) Cm7 Bbm7 A7
Abmaj7 Fm7 Bb7(b9) Eb6 D⌀7 G7

This simple and classic structure makes it easy to adapt to other genres and for jazz musicians to improvise over the established chords.


Babes in Arms opened at the Shubert Theatre on Broadway, in New York City on April 14, 1937 and ran for 289 performances.[2] In the original play, a character named Billie Smith (played by Mitzi Green) sings the song to Valentine "Val" LaMar (played by Ray Heatherton).[3] In the song, Billie pokes fun at some of Valentine's characteristics, but ultimately affirms that he makes her smile and that she doesn't want him to change (the song is often sung by a man to a woman, though to say that a woman's looks are "laughable" is anomalous).

The song first hit the charts in 1945, performed by Hal McIntyre with vocals by Ruth Gaylor.[4] It only appeared for one week and hit #16.[5]

Bing Crosby recorded the song in 1956[6] for use on his radio show and it was subsequently included in the box set The Bing Crosby CBS Radio Recordings (1954-56) issued by Mosaic Records (catalog MD7-245) in 2009.[7]

Elvis Costello recorded a cover version in 1978. It came out in 1979 as the B-side of the single Oliver's Army and was later included in multiple compilation albums.

Michael Buble recorded the song for his 2018 album Love.

In popular cultureEdit

  • In The Simpsons Season 29 episode Haw Haw Land, Nelson Muntz sings "My Funny Valentine" to Lisa Simpson. The Frank Sinatra version is later used in the same episode.
  • The song was featured in 1999 film The Talented Mr. Ripley.
  • In Part 7 of Hirohiko Araki's long-running Japanese manga series JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, entitled Steel Ball Run, the main antagonist, the president of the United States, is named Funny Valentine. The series is known for its many references to pop culture, particularly with regards to music, making this a reference to the song.
  • In The Good Cop Season 1 episode Did the TV Star Do It?, Tony Caruso Sr., played by Tony Danza starts to sing "My Funny Valentine" on TV, but the murderer/TV host pretends to be offended by what he claims are the misogynistic lyrics. He then fires Tony Sr, allowing him to claim Tony Jr. is out for revenge when he arrests the murderer.
  • In the 1998 anime series directed by Shinichiro Watanabe Cowboy Bebop the main character Faye Valentine's name is directly attributed to the song.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "National Recording Registry To "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive"". The Library of Congress. 25 March 2015. Archived from the original on 23 June 2016. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  2. ^ Trager, James (2005). The People's Chronology: A Year-by-Year Record of Human Events from Prehistory to the Present (3 ed.). Detroit: Gale. ISBN 0805031340.
  3. ^ Playbill from 1937 Babes in Arms theatrical performance.
  4. ^ Orodenker, M. H. (1945-01-27). "Popular Record Reviews". Billboard. 27 (4). ISSN 0006-2510.
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1992). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954: The History of American Popular Music. Record Research, Inc. ISBN 0-89820-083-0. As cited in My Funny Valentine (1937), written, compiled, and published by
  6. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  7. ^ "". Retrieved October 11, 2017.

Further readingEdit