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"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"
Song
Published1937
GenreJazz
Composer(s)Richard Rodgers
Lyricist(s)Lorenz Hart

Contents

StructureEdit

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.

HistoryEdit

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).[4]

The song first hit the charts in 1945, performed by Hal McIntyre with vocals by Ruth Gaylor.[5] It only appeared for one week and hit #16.[6]

Bing Crosby recorded the song in 1956[7] 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.[8]

In popular cultureEdit

  • In the TV show Grey's Anatomy, "My Funny Valentine" is the wedding song of Adele and Dr. Richard Webber. Richard sings the song to calm Adele from Alzheimer's episodes.
  • 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.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  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. ^ "My Funny Valentine: Sinatra Song of the Century #9". SteynOnline. 13 February 2015. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  5. ^ Orodenker, M. H. (1945-01-27). "Popular Record Reviews". Billboard. 27 (4). ISSN 0006-2510.
  6. ^ 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 jazzstandards.com.
  7. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  8. ^ "allmusic.com". allmusic.com. Retrieved October 11, 2017.

Further readingEdit

  • Bragalini, Luca (1997). "My Funny Valentine: The Disintegration of the Standard". Originally published in Musica Jazz.
  • Cook, Richard (1999-02-12). "The Hart of the Matter". New Statesman. 128 (4423): 45. ISSN 1364-7431.
  • Fox, Dan (2007). World's Greatest Wedding Music: 50 of the Most Requested Wedding Pieces. Alfred Music Publishing. ISBN 0-7390-4674-8.
  • Friedwald, Will (2002). "My Funny Valentine (1937)". Stardust Memories: The Biography of Twelve of America's Most Popular Songs. New York: Random House, Inc. pp. 348–373. ISBN 0-375-42089-4.
  • Gabbard, Krin (2004). Black Magic: White Hollywood and African American Culture. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0-8135-3384-8.
  • Hischak, Thomas S. (2007). The Rodgers and Hammerstein Encyclopedia. Greenwood Press. p. 189. ISBN 0-313-34140-0.
  • Holbrook, Morris B. (2005). "The Ambi-Diegesis of "My Funny Valentine"". In Steve Lannin and Matthew Caley (eds.). Pop fiction: The Song in Cinema. Portland, OR: Intellect Books. pp. 48–62. ISBN 1-84150-078-X.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  • Steyn, Mark (2014). "My Funny Valentine: Steyn's Song of the Week Extra". Adapted from A Song For The Season. Archived from the original on 2014-02-15.
  • Studwell, William Emmett (1994). The Popular Song Reader: A Sampler of Well-Known Twentieth Century-Songs. Routledge. p. 127. ISBN 1-56024-369-4.