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(I Don't Stand A) Ghost of a Chance (With You) (1932)

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Origin and Chart Information
“A Ghost of a Chance” became the property of tenor saxophonist Chu Berry, whose 1940 version with Calloway bested later versions by Hawkins and Young.

- Chris Tyle

AKAGhost of a Chance
Rank 66
Music Victor Young
Lyrics Bing Crosby
Ned Washington

Bing Crosby introduced “I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance with You” with his 1933 recording on the Brunswick label. An immediate success, Crosby’s recording appeared on the pop charts in January of 1933 and rose to number five. The producers at Brunswick Records obviously did not anticipate “Ghost of a Chance” becoming one of the top jazz standards of all time, placing it on the B-side of “Just an Echo in the Valley,” a song from the film Going Hollywood.


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A few months later Brunswick again demonstrated their lack of confidence in “Ghost of a Chance,” releasing a rendition by Ted Fio Rito and His Orchestra (featuring vocalist Muzzy Marcellino) on the B-side of “I’ll Take an Option with You.”

Initial popularity is not always a predictor for jazz standards. Crosby’s “Just an Echo in the Valley,” surpassed his “Ghost of a Chance,” climbing the charts to number two while Fio Rito’s “I’ll Take an Option with You” overtook his “Ghost of a Chance,” peaking at number five. Today, on the other hand, there are 50 CD recordings of “Ghost of a Chance” for every one of “Just an Echo in the Valley” and over 150 for every one of “I’ll Take an Option with You.”


Chart information used by permission from
Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954

Crosby also performed “I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance with You” in the 1933 Paramount film short “Please,” which starred Mary Kornman, Vernon Dent, Dick Elliott, and Dickie Kilby. Other songs in the short’s score included “Please” and “You’re Getting to Be a Habit with Me.” With a twenty-two minute running time, the plot needed to be simple: Bing helps a girl with her car and her boyfriend becomes jealous. The guys sing to see who gets the girl and Crosby wins.

“I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance with You” is now praised universally by jazz fans, jazz musicians, and jazz critics. Alec Wilder, in his book, American Popular Song: The Great Innovators, 1900-1950, says, “It’s a very special, extremely tasteful ballad.”


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More information on this tune...

Alec Wilder
American Popular Song: The Great Innovators, 1900-1950
Oxford University Press; Reprint edition
Hardcover: 576 pages

(In his authoritative book on American popular song, writer/composer Wilder offers a short musical analysis of “Ghost of a Chance.”)

- Jeremy Wilson

Recommendations for This Tune
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Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Himself
1991 Original Jazz Classics 254
Original recording 1957
This performance, from Monk’s first full solo piano album, is both an important version of the tune and a definitive example of his approach to interpreting standard ballads. The stark angularity of Monk’s solo ballad style proves to be extremely compatible with the song’s pathos.
George Shearing, Carmen Mcrae
Two for the Road
Concord Records
Original Recording 1980
Vocalist McRae and pianist Shearing are both justly revered for their abilities to tenderly interpret standards with little or no additional accompaniment. Surprisingly, this album is their only recorded collaboration, and this ballad performance is a highlight.

- Noah Baerman

Billie Holiday
Music For Torching
1995 Verve 527455
Original recording 1955
Who better to evoke the loneliness of this song than Billie Holiday? Tenderness abounds as she and saxophonist Ben Webster engage in dialogue.
Benny Carter
Sax A La Carter
2004 Blue Note 93513
Original recording 1960
Carter manages to find the bluesy swing alter ego of a tune usually interpreted as a ballad. It does not hurt that he is accompanied by the exceptionally swinging rhythm section of pianist Jimmy Rowles, bassist Leroy Vinnegar and drummer Mel Lewis.
Clifford Brown/Max Roach
Brown and Roach Inc
1990 Emarcy 814644
Original recording 1954
Clifford Brown’s trumpet harbors a sad, ethereal tone on this melancholy rendition of the song which is at the same time heartbreakingly plaintive and deeply satisfying.
Lennie Tristano
2002, Melodie Jazz Classic 1184
Original recording 1946
A highly original and dramatic reading from pianist Tristano, this solo effort is intriguing and seductive. It draws the listener in with its passion and sophisticated chording.
Wes Montgomery
Movin' Along
1991 Original Jazz Classics 89
Original recording 1960
Montgomery begins by interpreting the melody beautifully in octaves, as was his signature. Along the way, he plays other sections in single notes and block chords, while also making room for a piano solo by Victor Feldman.
Diana Krall
Love Scenes
Grp Records

Pianist/vocalist Diana Krall offers a gentle yet evocative reading of the song. Her delivery is playful and passionate over the laid-back rhythm of bassist Christian McBride and guitarist Russell Malone.
Illinois Jacquet
Bottoms Up
1991, Original Jazz Classics 417
Original recording, 1968
Tenor sax man Jacquet delivers an introspective, moody version of the song. His playing is resonant and commanding, conveying the heavy yearning of the lyrics.

- Ben Maycock

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