My Funny Valentine chords by Chet Baker

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My Funny Valentine | Chords + Lyrics

Verse 1

| Cm | Cmmaj7 | Cm7 | Cm6 |
My funny valentine, sweet comic valentine.
| Abmaj7 | Fm7 | Dm7b5 | G7b9 |
You make me smile with my heart.

Verse 2

| Cm | Cmmaj7 | Cm7 | Cm6 |
Your looks are laughable, un-photographable.
| Abmaj7 | Fm7 | Abm6 | Bb7b9 |
Yet, you’re my favorite work of art.

Bridge 1

| Ebmaj7 Fm7 | Gm7 Fm7 |
Is your figure less than Greek?
| Ebmaj7 Fm7 | Gm7 Fm7 |
Is your mouth a little weak?
| Ebmaj7 G7 | Cm Bbm7 A7 | Abmaj7 | Dm7b5 G7b9 |
When you open it to speak, are you smart?

Verse 3

| Cm | Cmmaj7 | Cm7 | Cm6 |
But don’t change your hair for me, not if you care for me.
| Abmaj7 | Dm7b5 G7b9 | Cm | Bbm7 A7#11 |
Stay little valentine, stay.
| Abmaj7 | Fm7 Bb7b9 | Eb6 | (Dm7b5 G7b9) |
Each day is Valentine’s Day.

My Funny Valentine’s chords and progressions

Chet Baker didn’t actually write My Funny Valentine, Rogers and Hart did in 1937 for a musical called Babes In Arms.

However, Chet’s version is the one we mean when My Funny Valentine is called on stage, at the last minute as a standard, and therefore his chords are what we are expected to play.

With that in mind, let’s pick My Funny Valentine’s chords apart and see if we can wrap our heads around it, essential in order to improvise over this legendary chord progression.

Verse 1 is 8 bars long and starts with the descending chromatic Cm extensions, synonymous with this tune.

| Cm | Cmmaj7 | Cm7 | Cm6 |
| Abmaj7 | Fm7 | Dm7b5 | G7b9 |

Do compare the first four bars with that of Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and you’ll see how here, the extensions are in the middle of the chord, not in the bass. There is also a different starting note for the movement in Ain’t No Mountain.

Let’s get back to My Funny Valentine’s chords! Having the notes CBBbA change over the chord means there is not one scale that will work. This opens up a world of opportunities for the keen soloist. C Melodic Minor comes to mind as one of them.

After the signature opening progression of Cm (chord VI) we go to Abmaj7 (IV), Fm7 (II), before we play a so-called minor II – V. That’s VII – IIIx in the keys of Cm/Eb.

All this means that we are diatonic to Cm in verse 1, apart from the chromatic descending notes over Cm.

Verse 2 starts in the same way, although, and this is very important, the melody now starts on the 3rd, not the root. This is perhaps the greatest lesson we learn from My Funny Valentine – Doing this draws the listener in.

Anyway, back to the chords, that second line is now:

| Abmaj7 | Fm7 | Abm6 | Bb7b9 |

The last two chords have changed, setting us up for the bridge. Abm6 is chord IVm, Bb7b9 is chord V. Although the b9 is outside of the key. Try an Abdim7 arpeggio over this chord if you solo!

The bridge is not in Cm anymore, it is in the relative major key of Eb. Compare this to how Summertime used both minor and major.

First, we go up the scale and then down again using chords I – II – III – II, like this:

||: Ebmaj7 Fm7 | Gm7 Fm7 :||

By having two chords per bar, rather than one in the verse, we automatically pick up the pace of the song. Pair this with moving to major and the change in feel is dramatic.

It’s important to realize that the reason it doesn’t feel strange or uncomfortable is that we haven’t changed the key, just moved to a different tonal center, Cm and Eb share the same chords.

The final line of the bridge is I – IIIx7 – VI, or Ebmaj7G7Cm. This sets up the next verse, although there are a few more bars to complete it.

| Ebmaj7 G7 | Cm Bbm7 A7 | Abmaj7 | Dm7b5 G7b9 |

The second half of bar two is a II – V of Ab, although the A7 is a tritone substitution. This brings us to Abmaj7 (IV). Finally, we have another minor II – V, or VII – IIIx. Dm7b5G7b9 takes us back to Cm for the final verse.

Verse 3 is similar to previous verses, but not the same. We start with Cm but then things change:

| Cm | Cmmaj7 | Cm7 | Cm6 |
| Abmaj7 | Dm7b5 G7b9 | Cm | Bbm7 A7#11 |
| Abmaj7 | Fm7 Bb7b9 | Eb6 | (Dm7b5 G7b9) |

Line 2 goes to the minor II – V, back to Cm, then we get another II – V with a tritone substitution as we had in the bridge. Although here we also get a #11: Bbm7 A7#11.

The final line is IV – II – V – I. The Bb7b9 is not diatonic, but it works really well. Finish on an Eb6.

Should you want to solo, use a minor II – V (Dm7b5 – G7b9) to start over again from the top.

My Funny Valentine’s legacy as a jazz standard

Perhaps the jazz standard of all standards, My Funny Valentine has appeared on over 1300 albums, recorded by over 600 artists, not to mention the millions of jazz musicians that have played this legendary tune over the years.

600 artists are too many to list here so in the playlist above, I’ve included another six, apart from Chet Baker. They are Sting, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Chaka Khan, Sarah Vaughan, and my favorite youtube sax genius Chad LB.

If you want to really dig deep, and get better at jazz and therefore your instrument, you should work out how these artists change the melody of My Funny Valentine.

You should also look at how they’ve changed My Funny Valentine’s chord progression, even transcribe the solos.

But before you do that, start with learning how to play this classic using the chords and lyrics above. Maybe take it around the twelve keys, that should keep you busy for a couple of weeks!

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