Feb 14, 2022
Perhaps no song in the canon of the Great American Songbook is associated with Valentine's Day than Rodgers & Hart's 1937 classic "My Funny Valentine." The song was originally written as part of the score of their Broadway show Babes in Arms, which gave us classics like "Johnny One Note," "Where or When," and "The Lady is a Tramp." For a deep dive into the details of the song and the show, check out this posting at Cafe Songbook.
Perhaps no one knows as much about "My Funny Valentine" than writers and historian Will Friedwald. Friedwald included a lengthy discussion about the song in his 2002 book Stardust Memories: A Biography of 12 of America's Most Popular Songs.
Podcast 880 bring Friedwald front and center to discuss how one of the lesser performed tunes from the show (it was left out of the movie version starring Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney) became one of the most recorded standards by the end of the 1950's. During our talk, we talk about several of the most historic and memorable recorded versions of "My Funny Valentine," including the version Friedwald feels really launched the song from Frank Sinatra. While Chet Baker as part of the Gerry Mulligan group recorded the song first, it's Ol' Blue Eyes who Will states made the tune a must for crooners everywhere.
We'll also hear the Miles Davis Quintet's epic version, as well as one from Ella Fitzgerald's Rodgers & Hart Songbook which includes the oft-neglected opening verse. And just for good measure representing the many rock and pop singers who have covered the tune (Sting, Rod Stewart, Carly Simon, Jerry Garcia, Linda Ronstadt) is Elvis Costello's best Chet Baker impression.