Friday, February 13, 2009

LES Valentine: 2/13/09

Ella's version, complete with the verse: The best saved for last of this year's valentines. Pics mostly on Orchard between Broome and Grand
from jazz standards
In 1927 Lorenz Hart took the novel approach of combining antiquated words with contemporary colloquialisms in “Thou Swell” from A Connecticut Yankee (1927), resulting in lines such as “I choose a sweet lollapalooza in thee.” In “My Funny Valentine” the verse repeats his previous approach with “thou’s” and “thy’s” and “doth” and “hast”; for example, “Thou knowest not my dim witted friend.” But the refrain does not include any archaic words or colloquialisms, with the exception of “my favorite work of art”.
The verse of “My Funny Valentine” is rarely sung, possibly because of the outmoded words or perhaps because of another distinction: it contains only a single-note melody.
Richard Rodgers’ refrain has a descending bass line, which William Zinsser (Easy to Remember: The Great American Songwriters and Their Songs) says, “is the foundation that holds up the whole song.” Its engaging melody is basically the repetition of a six-note phrase in the first four bars followed by variations on that theme. This is a very nicely constructed melody that rises tentatively, then falls repeatedly, only to rise a bit higher each time. The harmonic progression of the “A” section is led by a chromatically descending bass line that changes each chord (somewhat reminiscent of “In A Sentimental Mood” and “Blue Skies”).

Behold the way our fine feathered-friend
His virtue doth parade.
Thou knowest not, my dim witted friend,
The picture Thou hast made.
Thy vacant brow and thy tousled hair
Conceal Thy good intent.
Thou, noble upright, truthful, sincere
And slightly dopey gent,- you are...
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.

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