The Rat Pack represents an era of early Las Vegas, sophistication and legendary entertainment. With Rat Pack singers such as Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Judy Garland, American people would watch them with awe for the lives led, the songs sang, movies acted and gossip that erupted. Rat Pack music will remain a part of the American culture for many generations, and people cherish their legendary songs of Christmas.
My list of favorite Rat Pack Christmas songs may differ from everyone’s list, but we agree, these songs create a distinctive image of Christmas. These songs represent an old fashioned, yet sophisticated Christmas. Their music creates an image of Christmas with red velvet lounges, martinis, aluminum Christmas trees, and perhaps simpler times.
“Marshmallow World,” sung by Dean Martin conjures images of snow as a sugary confection. One of my favorite lines of the song is, “It’s a yum-yummy world made for sweethearts, take a walk with your favorite girl. It’s a sugar date, what if spring is late, in winter it’s a marshmallow world.” Listening to Deans voice puts me in the mood for hot chocolate, even here in Texas where I have yet to experience snow.
“Santa Baby” sung by Ertha Kitt, admittedly she wasn’t a true Rat Pack member, but her song is so appropriate with her sultry voice and the gifts she wants from Santa. This song is filled with an era where women wanted minks and diamonds and huge cars. She wants diamonds from Tiffany’s and thinks about all the boys she has yet to kiss. This song epitomizes the 1950s and 1960s before values began to change. She is a Rat Pack singer, and no one has ever improved on her version of this song, including Madonna.
“Baby It’s Cold Outside,” sung by Dean Martin, well, this song is doesn’t directly use the word Christmas, and is a snowy song where a woman is tempted to stay with a man in an era when reputation was important. He tries to give her reasons to stay and she tries to explain why she cannot, worried about what people will say. This song is so appropriate at Christmas and a part of the Rat Pack mystique.
“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” sung by Judy Garland reminds me of my childhood and Christmas because my grandmother loved this song. I remember hearing this song in one of my favorite movies; “Meet Me in Saint Louis” and watching Judy Garland sing this song. This song speaks of troubles being out of sight and gathering with family and friends. Two songs will always remind me of Judy, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Somewhere over the Rainbow.”
“Jingle Bells” sung by Sammy Davis Jr. puts a Las Vegas edge to the song. I love Sammy David Jr. and his music. I also admire Sammy’s ability to entertain everyone in a time when unfortunately segregation still existed in this country. “Jingle Bells” is one of my Christmas song favorites, but I am thrilled when the singer is Sammy. This song is carefree, fun to listen to and I still sing along with the song, although more than once I have been asked to let Sammy sing.
“I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” sung by Frank Sinatra is a voice filled with nostalgia. His song reminds me not only of a Christmas past, but of days gone by. I was a child in the late 1950s and early 1960s when Christmas had a different meaning than today. Our Christmas’s were not filled with a ton of gifts, but were filled with love and heart. Each Christmas something like this song will trigger memories and once more I will be home.
“Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow” sung by Dean Martin is such a familiar part of our holiday music. I hear this song everywhere and enjoy the song each time I do. Dean makes you want to stay in side by a warm fire with the person you love and enjoy that wintery moment. I will admit as a young girl I had a crush on Dean Martin. I thought he was so sophisticated and such a wonderful singer. Hearing this song brings out the color red, not on Santa, but on my cheeks when I remember that crush.
“Winter Wonderland,” sung by Frank Sinatra was the perfect song to bake Christmas cookies with Grandma. She loved Frank and all his music. This song is filled with memories of a counter full of gingerbread men, sugar cookies and other Christmas treats. In the echoes of Christmas past, I can still hear Grandma say no one can sing Christmas like Frank.
“The Christmas Song,” sung by Judy Garland and Mel Torme conjures images of an old-fashioned Christmas where children are excited about the arrival of Santa Claus. I am reminded of the five thousand times my parents had to remind us to go to bed or Santa would not come, and our ingenious ways of sneaking down and trying to get a peek at Santa. Christmas has its magic and unfortunately, too many people miss the point of Christmas and stopped using the cheerful greeting “Merry Christmas.”
“White Christmas,” sung by Frank Sinatra is my final choice for top Rat Pack Christmas songs. Many people think of Bing Crosby with this song, but Frank is a better choice. “White Christmas” is perhaps the quintessence of Christmas nostalgia, and Frank presents an air of Christmas sophistication. I love this song and the voice of the man, we called “The Chairman of the Board.” If Santa Claus had a concierge, that person would be Frank Sinatra.