Just ten days after the December 11, 1967 debut of her trailblazing Movin’ With Nancy television special, Nancy was back on NBC in another historic broadcast. For the December 21, 1967 episode of Dean Martin’s weekly variety series, the Sinatra and Martin families came together to give viewers a holiday gift in the form of Christmas-themed music and comedy. (Pictured above from the performance of “We Wish You The Merriest”: Nancy appears with Gail Martin, Dean Martin, and her dad.) As part of a medley with Gail Martin, Nancy delivers a charming version of “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’,” with special, Christmas lyrics:
“These boots were made for Santa,
You got your Santa shoes.
You better get your sleigh
Because there ain’t no time to lose.”
The following Christmas, 1968, brought the release of another family collaboration: The Sinatra Family Wish You A Merry Christmas album (Reprise FS-1026).
An ad in the August 23, 1969 issue of Billboard recognized the timeless significance of the LP’s performances:
“Nancy, Tina, Frank Jr., and Frank Sinatra in what we feel will be the must-buy Christmas album for several seasons to come. The extraordinary bonds that hold the Sinatras together transmit from this album so powerfully that it’s bound to get heavy national publicity [...]“
In the “For The Record” section of her 1985 book, Frank Sinatra, My Father, Nancy warmly recalls the project:
“One of the most enjoyable experiences of my life. From shooting the cover to hearing the songs on the radio. Tina was scared, ‘in a coma,’ as she approached the mike for her solo. Dad joked, ‘You got one take, kid.’ We did ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ as reworded by Sammy Cahn. That year Frankie and Tina and I gave Dad every gift that was mentioned in the lyric—including ‘six games of Scrabble, five iv’ry combs, four meerschaum pipes, three golf clubs, two silken scarves…and a most lovely lavender tie.” By the way, ‘It’s Such a Lonely Time of Year’ was an antiwar (Vietnam) song.”
In a 2009 Sinatra Family Forum post, Nancy elaborates on the importance of “It’s Such A Lonely Time Of Year”:
“You don’t have to be pro-war to be passionately supportive of our fighting forces. They need us more than ever. We learned a tough lesson with the Viet Nam War and we can’t ever let that happen again. Our troops and veterans must be treated with love and respect.
“My dad and I had this discussion about Lonely Time of Year when we recorded the album. We both felt it was a vital addition to the Christmas collection. Of course, Dad always said wars should be fought in court rooms with lawyers arguing with words instead of young people arguing with bullets, shooting each other.” [source]
Four tracks from the album are contained on this picture sleeve EP from Argentina: La Familia Sinatra Les Desea Feliz Navidad (Reprise MH-60329).
1. Sucedio En Navidad? (Whatever Happened To Christmas?) – Frank
2. Epoca Solitaria Del Año (It’s Such A Lonely Time Of Year) – Nancy
1. Chicos (Kids) – Nancy
2. No Cambiaria La Navidad (I Wouldn’t Trade Christmas) – Frank, Frankie, Nancy, and Tina
The album has been reissued on CD as a 1999 “24 karat gold disc” (Artanis ARZ-103 [pictured: left]), a 2009 Universal Music Group release (2720039), and a 2009 SHM (“Super High Material”) Japanese mini-LP CD (Universal UICY-94367 [picured: right]).
Nancy’s two solo tracks on the Sinatra Family album, “It’s Such A Lonely Time Of Year” and “Kids,” have also appeared on some of Nancy’s singles: It’s Such A Lonely Time Of Year / Kids (U.S. Reprise 0880 [left]; German Reprise RA-0791 [upper, right]; French Reprise RV-20234 [lower, right]), as well as Feelin’ Kinda Sunday [by Nancy and Frank] / Kids (U.S. Reprise 0980).
“It’s Such A Lonely Time Of Year” was written by Chip Taylor and Al Gorgoni of the performing duo Just Us and the trio Gorgoni, Martin (Trade Martin) & Taylor. As Just Us, Taylor and Gorgoni recorded the charted single version of “I Can’t Grow Peaches On A Cherry Tree” (Minuteman MA 203-A), which Nancy also recorded (for her Nancy In London album [Reprise 6221]). Among the many well-known songs written by Chip Taylor are The Troggs’ “Wild Thing” and Merilee Rush’s “Angel Of The Morning.”
In “It’s Such A Lonely Time Of Year,” Nancy sings of loved ones (especially parents and children, in the following lyrics) who are separated by the perils of war:
“I haven’t heard a word from you
And wondering what you’re doin.’
Wish that you could see them too
And be here by my side.
And almost every day one of them will say,
Why’d he ever have to go away,
And the tears are so hard to hide.”
Nancy’s moving reading of the song’s subtle but effective antiwar sentiment reflects her lament:
“Christmas and war are connected with krazy glue. It seems we never have one without the other anymore.
“The aching and yearning for home…” [source]
“The thing about Lonely Time of Year is it can be about any time of the year. The lyric says ‘holidays and birthdays, summer days and winter days and any day when you’re not here.’
“I always think of the families of our troops in harm’s way.” [source]
“Kids,” the single’s flip side, was written by Mac Davis (credited as Scott Davis), the composer of numerous songs recorded by Nancy (including “Home” [co-written with Larry Collins], “Hello L.A., Bye Bye Birmingham” [co-written with Delaney Bramlett], and “Good Time Girl”).
These lyrics from “Kids” are reminiscent of the electric model cars segment with Frank, Dean, Frankie, and Dino in The Dean Martin Christmas Show:
“Daddy runs the ‘lectric train
While all the children wait in vain
To take their turn
At playin’ engineer.”
More than a decade later, Nancy’s 1981 collaborations with Mel Tillis for the Elektra label resulted in one album, two commercial singles and a promotional single. The promo-only 45 (E-47234-Y) features their country-flavored rendition of “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” b/w Dave Rowland & Sugar’s recording of “Winter Wonderland.” (Nancy and Mel are pictured in an Elektra Records press kit photo by Ron Slenzak.)
Click on the play button to hear a clip of the recording.
The recording was commercially issued on two various artists compilations: the 1981 LP Christmas Country (Elektra 5E-554) and the now-rare 1988 2-CD set Sessions Presents Christmas Wishes (Warner Special Products OPCD-4513).
In an article (“Christmas LP Via E/A”) in the August 29, 1981 issue of Billboard, Jimmy Bowen (producer of many Nancy recordings and co-producer, with Billy Strange, of two Mel & Nancy duets ["Texas Cowboy Night" and "After The Lovin'"]) commented on Christmas Country’s then-forthcoming release:
“‘There hasn’t been a lot of new Christmas material out in the past few years,’ says Jimmy Bowen, E/A [Elektra/Asylum] vice president, Nasville. ‘But we needed something special to do these Christmas standards again.’”
Nancy’s cool, technopop treatment of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” has been issued on numerous charity releases: 1991′s The Christmas Album…A Gift Of Hope (Children’s Records); 1995′s The Holiday Collection, Volume 1 (MCA Special Products 22180); 1998′s A Christmas Miracle (Children’s Miracle Network 5659400599); 1998′s A Gift Of Christmas, Volume 2 (BMG Special Products 44750).
“Gentlemen was recorded at Michael Lloyd’s studio specifically for the Childrens Miracle Newtwork c.d.s he produces each year. Dad’s Silent Night was also done at Michael’s studio for these collections.
“Michael does wonderful work for needy kids by selling these collections.” ~ Nancy [source]
Click on the play button to hear a clip of the recording.
Nancy and Chanukah…
Although it has not been recorded by Nancy, she has shared wonderful memories of Frederick Silver’s Chanukah song, “A Feast Of Lights”:
“This is not just a beautiful holiday song, it’s a beautiful song – period.” [source]
“I can still see my kids with their classmates standing on the risers in the school auditorium with all the decorations, the menorah and the Christmas tree. They were singing this song. Later on when they were part of a group called the Madrigals they performed The Feast of Light and other songs and carols at local malls [...]“ [source]
Nancy played a recording of the song by the Seattle Girls’ Choir on her SiriusXM Nancy For Frank radio show (Show #114, December 20, 2009).
Future Releases by Nancy…
With titles such as “Santa Baby,” “Man With The Bag,” and “Merry Christmas Baby,” fans of Nancy’s work can look forward to the eventual release of a new album of Christmas recordings. Nancy offers this preview:
“My dream Christmas album is not traditional so it wouldn’t have the carols we are used to hearing and singing. While I do have a fondness for those and love singing them at midnight mass on Christmas Eve, I doubt I could add anything fresh or new or better to them than those who have already sung them so beautifully over the years.
“The songs I am rehearsing [...] with Don Randi are more rooted in jazz and blues than Christmas carols. They are more romantic and some are a little sad.
“This will be a moody, soft, kind of sexy and sentimental collection of my favorite Christmas songs.” [source]