My Funny Valentine

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

"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,[1] for whom it became his signature song.[2][3] 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.[4]

Structure[edit]

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:

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

History[edit]

Babes in Arms opened at the Shubert Theatre on Broadway, in New York City on April 14, 1937 and ran for 289 performances.[5] In the original play, a character named Billie Smith (played by Mitzi Green) sings the song to Valentine "Val" LaMar (played by Ray Heatherton).[6] The character's name was changed to match the lyric of this song.[7]

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.[8] (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.)

Standalone recordings[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

  • 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.
  • 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 1995 Season 2 episode of Living Single, entitled "Singing the Blues", Kyle Barker (T.C. Carson) sings "My Funny Valentine" to his on-again/off-again rival and lover Maxine "Max" Shaw (Erika Alexander) in an attempt to regain his confidence after an earlier performance was derailed by her presence. She is left swooning by the end of the number. In 2015 Carson covered the song on a single.
  • The song was used in The Vicar of Dibley episode "Engagement".
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Part 7 'Steel Ball Run', the main antagonist, Funny Valentine, is named after said song.
  • In Cowboy Bebop, the fifteenth episode of the anime is named after said song.
  • In Before We Go, Alice Eve sings "My Funny Valentine" and Chris Evans plays the trumpet.
  • In Grey's Anatomy Season 8 Episode 12 "Hope for the Hopeless" Richard sings it to Adele.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.jazzstandards.com/compositions-0/myfunnyvalentine.htm
  2. ^ Schwanebeck, Wieland; McFarland, Douglas (8 October 2018). Patricia Highsmith on Screen. ISBN 9783319960500.
  3. ^ https://www.jazzmessengers.com/en/74985/chet-baker/my-funny-valentine
  4. ^ "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.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Playbill from 1937 Babes in Arms theatrical performance.
  7. ^ Rodgers, Richard (1975) Musical Stages: an autobiography. New York: Random House, page 181
  8. ^ Holden, Stephen."Television Review: Thou Rodgers, Thou Hart, So Fizzy, So Smart", The New York Times, January 6, 1999.
  9. ^ Orodenker, M. H. (1945-01-27). "Popular Record Reviews". Billboard. Vol. 27 no. 4. ISSN 0006-2510.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  12. ^ "allmusic.com". allmusic.com. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  13. ^ cite web |url=http://www.milesdavis.com/albums/my-funny-valentine/ Miles Davis.com | title=Miles Davis | accessdate=12 August 2020
  14. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Jacky Terrasson - Jacky Terrasson | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 August 2020.

Further reading[edit]