A Rat Pack Christmas
Yes, there is a CD that handily collects Christmas songs by Frank, Dino, Sammy (and Peter and Joey, as pictured above), so you could go that route. But wouldn’t it be more fun to go looking for some of those classic Christmas albums by the Rat Pack guys, and maybe include some of their fellow holiday crooners?
Here are some suggestions for some albums and song choices that you could use to put together an ultra-cool playlist that might approximate who you would hear sing at a swingin’ holiday soiree hosted by the Rat Pack.
Dean Martin, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”
Dino could make anything swing, even “White Christmas.” OK, well, maybe not “White Christmas.” But Mr. Suave shares vocals on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” with a whole female chorus rather than the usual one female vocalist. It’s gotta be in the mix.
Frank Sinatra, “Mistletoe and Holly”
Ol’ Blue Eyes made “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” into bittersweet holiday ballads, but to meet the Rat Pack hip quotient, my choice is “Mistletoe and Holly,” if only to hear Frank croon “Oh, by gosh, by golly.”
Sammy Davis, Jr., “Jingle Bells”
The LP bins are lousy with records by Frank and Dean, but, incredibly, Sammy never released a Christmas album! He has recorded some Christmas songs, though, and one has got to be included. I’m going with “Jingle Bells” to keep things hoppin’.
Nat “King” Cole, “The Christmas Song”
Cole wasn’t in the Rat Pack, but he should’ve been. He was a lot cooler than Joey Bishop. All of these guys sang versions of “The Christmas Song” (You know, “The Christmas Song”: “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…”—that one), but Nat Cole made it one of his trademark numbers, and we’ll make it the low-key change of pace to break up the Rat Pack holiday party cheer.
Ella Fitzgerald, “Winter Wonderland”
Ella knew how to swing the holiday stuff, and was a big influence on the Rat Pack crooners. Her version of “Winter Wonderland” bounces right along, and earns her a spot as a Rat Pack special guest.
Tony Bennett, “My Favorite Things”
Why Tony Bennett was not a member of the Rat Pack I don’t know. His version of “My Favorite Things” (yes, it’s a Christmas song) is peppy. Tony’s still goin’, and in 2008 released an album with the Count Basie Band called A Swingin’ Christmas. Perfect!
Peggy Lee, “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town”
The Rat Pack always had a few ladies around, so we’ll let Peggy join Ella to represent the feminine element. All she has to do is sing to Dino, Frank and Sammy: “Gonna find out who’s naughty or nice.”
Of course, there’s room for other Rat Pack wannabes at the party, like Steve and Eydie, Bobby Darin, and Vic Damone. A nice, swingin’ way to dig the holidays! – Steve