My Funny Valentine

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For the album by Miles Davis, see My Funny Valentine (album).
"My Funny Valentine"
Published 1937
Form Jazz
Composer(s) Richard Rodgers
Lyricist(s) Lorenz Hart
Language English

"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, including Chet Baker, Bill Evans, Duke Ellington, Billy Eckstine, Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Andy Williams, Shirley Bassey, Miles Davis, Etta James, Harry James, Nico, Chaka Khan, Elvis Costello, Melanie C and Rickie Lee Jones. 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".[1]


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):

  • C-, C-maj7, C-7, C-6, Amaj7, F-7, D-7(5), G7(9)
  • ditto through to the F-7, then D9, B7(9)
  • (bridge) Emaj7, F-7, G-7, F-7, Emaj7, F-7, G-7, F-7, Emaj7, G7(5),C-,(B7,A7) Amaj7, D-7(5) G7,
  • C-, C-maj7, C-7, C-6, Amaj7, D-7(5) G7(9), C-, B-7 A7, Amaj7, F-7, B7(9), C-7 (preferred, or Emaj7)

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, and perhaps dangerous).[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] In the 1955 romantic musical comedy film, Gentlemen Marry Brunettes, it was sung by Jeanne Crain (dubbed by Anita Ellis) and Alan Young, and in 1957 was sung by Kim Novak in the film Pal Joey.

The song is part of the Great American Songbook and has had many notable recordings (see talk page).

See also[edit]


  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

Further reading[edit]

  • 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. Pop fiction: The Song in Cinema. Portland, OR: Intellect Books. pp. 48–62. ISBN 1-84150-078-X. 
  • Steyn, Mark (2014). "My Funny Valentine: Steyn's Song of the Week Extra". Adapted from A Song For The Season. 
  • Studwell, William Emmett (1994). The Popular Song Reader: A Sampler of Well-Known Twentieth Century-Songs. Routledge. p. 127. ISBN 1-56024-369-4. 

External links[edit]