David Ehrenstein presents Lorenz Hart Day
“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”
That’s the verse to the greatest song ever written. Among the greatest renditions; Lee Wiley, Frank Sinatra, Chet Baker, Matt Damon, and Nico.
Written in 1937 for Babes in Arms (the all time “Hey gang, let’s put on a show!” show) and introduced by Mitzi Green, “My Funny Valentine” was an “up” tune. But not as sung by itself outside of the context of that show, and not by everyone else who has sung it since then. It reflects the sweet melancholy of its author.
According to his Wikipedia entry Lorenz Hart (1895-- 1943) “struggled with his own homosexuality in an era when such a lifestyle was socially unacceptable and with alcoholism, which eventually contributed to his death.” Nonsense of course. There were no “lifestyle’s” in Larry Hart’s era, and being in show business he was surrounded by fellow gays and fellow drinkers. But at five foot nothing, balding and with the face of a Frank Loesser bookie, Larry Hart’s “presentation of self in everyday life” didn’t evoke romance. As the song goes that he wrote in 1942 for By Jupiter --
“Nobody's heart belongs to me,
heigh-ho, who cares?
Nobody writes his songs to me,
no one belongs to me.
That's the least of my cares.
I may sad at times,
and disinclined to play,
but it's not bad at times,
to go your own sweet way.
Nobody's arms belongs to me,
no arms feel strong to me.
I admire the moonas a moon
just a moon
Nobody's heart belongs to me today.”