"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.
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):
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.
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:
|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.
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 is often sung by a man to a woman, though to say that a woman's looks are "laughable" is anomalous).
Bing Crosby recorded the song in 1956 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.