My Funny Valentine
|"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, including Chet Baker, Bill Evans, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Andy Williams, Shirley Bassey, Miles Davis, Etta James, Nico, Chaka Khan, Elvis Costello, and Rickie Lee Jones. In 2015 it was announced that the Gerry Mulligan quartet featuring Chet Baker's version of the song will be 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".
The song is usually performed in C minor, although B minor is also fairly common; Frank Sinatra recorded it in that key and the theatrical version was in B minor. Ella Fitzgerald recorded in G minor.
The basic structure of the song on a C minor tonic is as follows:
- C-, C-maj7, C-7, C-6, Abmaj7, F-7, D-7(b5), G7(b9)
- ditto thru to the F-7, then Db9, Bb7(b9)
- (bridge) Ebmaj7, F-7, G-7, F-7, Ebmaj7, F-7, G-7, F-7, Ebmaj7, G7(+5),C-,(Bb7,A7) Abmaj7, D-7(b5) G7,
- C-, C-maj7, C-7, C-6, Abmaj7, D-7(b5) G7(b9), C-, Bb-7 A7, Abmaj7, F-7, Bb7(b9), C-7 (preferred, or Ebmaj7)
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. In the original play, a character named Billie Smith (played by Mitzi Green) sings the song to Valentine "Val" LaMar (played by Ray Heatherton). 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 first hit the charts in 1945, performed by Hal McIntyre with vocals by Ruth Gaylor. It only appeared for one week and hit #16. In 1957 it was sung (in the film) by Kim Novak in Pal Joey.
The song is part of the Great American Songbook and has had many notable recordings (see talk page).
- "National Recording Registry To "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive"". the Library of Congress. 25 March 2015. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
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- Playbill from 1937 Babes in Arms theatrical performance
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- Bragalini, Luca (1997). "My Funny Valentine: The Disintegration of the Standard". Originally published in Musica Jazz.
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- 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.