Continuing my rock memoir/bio trend with this book by Pat Benatar. I will say that I liked her stuff back in the day (I mean who didn’t get up and do that shoulder shake thing when Love is a Battlefield came on MTV?) but didn’t really pay that close attention to her career then.
Zip forward in time to last year, when tickets went on sale for a show here in town. Pat and her husband Neil “Spyder” Giraldo were touring in celebration of 35 years of making music together and as my hubby is a big fan, it was a no-brainer to pick up tickets. It was a terrific show,with so much energy and love for the music. And holy cow, she was 61-years-old and tearin’ shit up.
Her book has that energy and drive and total love for the music and for the life she and Spyder have built, but it’s not all sparkly happy. What they have gone through as musicians, at the hands of the record company and promoters, as well what she has gone through as a woman in the business is just awful. The punishing schedule they were on, recording and touring and recording and touring back to back for 7 years. It was so maddening to read how she was treated by the record label, always pushed to portray the sex kitten image over the quality of the music. When she was finally pregnant with her first daughter, she was even forbidden to talk about it in interviews or be photographed with “the bump” showing. Yeesh.
Yet, she doesn’t dwell on those negatives. Instead she shows how their commitment to each other and their family kept them grounded and dedicated to finding better ways to continue to do what they love. How they could finally balance raising their daughters and still have a normal family life (they would only tour in the summer so their daughters could be in school and they could be involved parents) and continue create music and connect with their fans. Pretty inspiring stuff.
I also found the sections of the book about those heady days of the 80’s and the advent of MTV to be particularly fascinating and more than just for nostalgia’s sake. I had forgotten how truly groundbreaking it was back in the day, how its creativity and variety helped inform some of my musical tastes that endure today.
All in all this was an inspiring and refreshing take on life in the music biz.