Updated: Sep 21, 2019
Have you ever listened to the lyrics of My Funny Valentine? They are not your typical romantic love song lyrics.
Is your figure less than Greek?
Is your mouth a little weak?
At a jam session a few months ago a singer mentioned to me that the lyrics come from a man singing to himself in a mirror. That made sense! He was aware of his flaws but loved himself all the same (see full lyrics at the bottom of this blog). But then again, it didn’t make sense, because the song was written by Rogers and Hart for the musical Babes in Arms and was sung by 16 year old Billie (a girl) to 25 year old Valentine “Val” LaMar (her guy). So where did the story about a man and a mirror come from?
Lorenz Hart, the lyricist, was 4’10” tall and a loner. His musical partner, Richard Rogers, was taller and had a wife and children. Lorenz is leaning on the piano in this picture. He never married or dated much for that matter as being a homosexual was not accepted in 1937. A lady from Popular Songs magazine inquired after Hart's own love life. "Love life?" he replied. "I haven't any." He was, however, a very popular lyricist of love songs so he must have been a romantic at heart.
The story of how he wrote the lyrics for My Funny Valentine goes like this. One night, heart-broken and miserable, Hart went into his bathroom, and stared in the mirror. He looked long and hard and tried to imagine someone looking at him, and being in love with him. Then, he wrote what someone might say to him, what a love song would sound like, if it was sung to him.
The result was My Funny Valentine. His song appeared on Broadway, and became a hit. A beautiful song full of the complex emotions that true love can bring. It starts in C minor (a sad key) but it ends on a happy note in E flat major.
If you are inspired to play it, and want to download the music with a chord voicing worksheet click here:
If you want a little coaching for the LH chords, here’s a voice memo I recorded for one of my students:
To get you started, here are the suggested voicings for the first few LH chords for My Funny Valentine (note the top 2 notes of the chord are the same!):
Cm C – Eb – G
Cm(maj7) B – Eb – G
Cm7 Bb – Eb – G
Cm6 A – Eb – G
Ab maj7 Ab – C – Eb – G
My funny valentine
Sweet comic valentine
You make me smile with my heart
You looks are laughable, unphotographable
Yet you're my favorite work of art
Is your figure less than greek
Is your mouth a little bit weak
When you open it to speak, are you smart?
Don't change a hair for me
Not if you care for me
Stay little valentine stay
Each day is valentine's day
Happy Valentine's Day to you!