My Funny Valentine

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"My Funny Valentine"
Published 1937
Genre Jazz
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. 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". Gerry also recorded the song with his Concert Jazz Band in 1960.[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).[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 it was sung by Kim Novak in the film Pal Joey. The song was also heard in the 1981 film Sharky's Machine when it was sung by Chet Baker.

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 1982, Boy George, then the unknown singer of Culture Club, recorded a version of the song which was then performed live on a special Valentine's Day programme on ITV. The recording was arranged and produced by Phil Pickett, keyboard player of Culture Club and co-writer of 'Karma Chameleon' "It's A Miracle' and 'Move Away'.

In 1996, Chaka Khan released a version of the song for the Waiting To Exhale soundtrack.

Noted performance artist Karen Finley included "My Funny Valentine" in her 2012 appearance at the Richard and Karen Carpenter Theater at University of California at Long Beach's The B-Word censorship festival with Bill T. Jones, John Fleck and others. Finley programmed jazz multi-instrumentalist Paul Nebenzahl to perform "My Funny Valentine" in extended loops and repeated motifs as a way to extract the greatest irony from its remarkable lyrics and song structure.

The Week 1 Auditions of Britain's Got Talent 2013 saw Alice Fredenham sing 'My Funny Valentine' — a rendition which, when posted on YouTube, has received more than 50 million views as of May 2018.

The song is part of the Great American Songbook and has had numerous recordings.

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
  7. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved October 11, 2017. 
  8. ^ "". Retrieved October 11, 2017. 

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. 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.