My Funny Valentine (Babes in Arms) Sheet Music

My Funny Valentine (Babes in Arms) Sheet Music
Original Artist: Chet Baker (also known as Chesney Henry, Prince of Cool)
Other Artist: Pam Wedgwood, Kenny Werner, Jim Hall, Sarah Vaughan, Herbie Hancock, Shirley Bassey, Paris Rutherford, Lorenz Hart, Babes In Arms (Musical), Judy Niemack, Gerry Mulligan, Bud Shank, Matt Otten, Arturo Sandoval, Come Fly Away (Musical), Gene Bertoncini, Hailey Tuck, Frank Sinatra (Francis Albert Sinatra, Chairman of the Board, La Voz, Ol' Blue Eyes, Swoonatra, The Sultan of Swoon, The Voice), Michael Bublé (Michael Steven), Bill Evans (William John Evans), Elvis Costello (Declan Patrick MacManus, D.P. Costello, The Imposter, Little Hands of Concrete, Napoleon Dynamite, D.P.A., International Art Thief The Right, Reverend Jimmy Quickly, Howard Coward), Richard Rodgers, Miles Davis (Miles Dewey Davis III)
Original Writer: Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers
Other Writer: Kenny Werner, Pam Wedgwood, Will Galison, Carol Canning, Brent Edstrom, Matt Otten, Paris Rutherford, Phillip Keveren, Jeff Arnold, Jim Beloff, Liz Beloff, Mac Huff, Richard Walters, Gene Bertoncini, Dominic Harrison, Jack Grassel, Olly Wedgwood (Oliver), David Hazeltine
Lyricist: Lorenz Hart

My Funny Valentine was written for the movie: Babes in Arms - a 1937 coming-of-age musical comedy.

It is a journey song, a time-travelling classic - a song which exists throughout the ages, sometimes having a resurgence in a new, reimagined format.

The ballad has been performed by Chet Baker, Hailey Tuck, Sting, Rickie Lee Jones, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Bing Crosby and countless others.

In Babes in Arms, Billy sings about her jealous beau Val, short for Valentine, who’s flaws she lists in the song - is your figure less than Greek, is your mouth a little weak and Your looks are laughable, un-photographable. The conclusion she reaches is that she loves him because of the flaws.

Arthur Freed of MGM saw the show and bought the rights but, as was usual at the time, took most of the musical numbers out - including My Funny Valentine.

The song was barely recorded at all over the next few years until it became a minor hit in 1944 with the band leader Hal MacIntire with the singer Ruth Gaylor. It then disappeared again as suddenly as it had emerged.

Chet Baker, the army trumpet player, made it his own by recording it in 1954 on his album Chet Baker Sings. This was part of a wide-spread need for cool jazz to offset the higher octane pop that flooded the market following the end of World War 2.

So why did it then become so popular? Other jazz musicians listened to the recording and examined the song. The appeal comes as much from the lyrics as musch as the music. The words are unusual, entertaining and mysterious with an interesting rhyme scheme - the way words are paired throughout. The melody is put together with the use of the C minor key with a flash of the major later and is contained within a narrow range which makes it very accessible to sing. The opening is rather sombre and dark but the bridge is a relief as it switches to the major key which creates moments of stasis. The song has a triumphant high note towards the end. Singers enjoy the ironic and slightly sardonic lyrics although it’s a slightly more complex than other jazz standards.

We like to sing certain intervals such as 1 tone, 1 tone then a 3 semitone interval - the trihemitone. Additionally changes of thirds together are often grouped together. These systems have been in use for thousands of years and are used throughout the song. Richard Rogers probably used these memes instinctively rather than deliberately.

Ian Shaw, the comedian, presenter, and pianist described it as having a vulnerability and that it has an incredible arc of tension and release. In terms of its cantillation it is very satisfying. He comments that Lorenz Hart, who was gay, Jewish and short was challenged throughout his life, often writing lyrics about himself.

There is danger of songs overwhelming their audience by over-exposure but My Funny Valentine has massive scope for interpretation and has been adopted by contemporary artists such as the rapper Justina Valentine, the Norwegian singer Angelina Jordan and Hadassah from Brooklyn, USA.

My Funny Valentine lives on and a new generation unwittingly awaits their own discovery of this great jazz standard.

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Chet Baker Sings
 Jazz
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