It’s been almost a week since Pat Benatar’s new book hit store shelves. Being a bit of a slow reader (mostly due to time constraints), I just finished reading it last night. Normally, I would conclude that only Pat Benatar fans would have any real interest in reading her memoir, and I was a little bit apprehensive going in.
I remember Benatar from the MTV days when she broke onto the scene – at least for those of us who did not happen to be loyal fans previous to her TV debut. MTV was the first time I had ever heard of Pat Benatar. As far as I was concerned as a 20-ish guy who spent me share of time in front of MTV in those days, she was a good-looking girl who could rock. Generally, I liked the music. Not enough to go buy a record, but it was good.
If I had to come up with one take-away from the book, I’d have to sum it up by saying that Pat Benatar is a human being with emotions, feelings, hopes, dreams, desires, goals, etc. You know, all the stuff that helps define most of us as human beings.
Surely, it’s obvious that Benatar is a human being. However, recall what I said about how I viewed her back when when she first broke onto MTV. I saw her pretty much the way her record company handlers wanted me to. It was all about the sex, and that was certainly not lost on a 20-ish guy who liked rock and roll.
We’ve all heard the stories of the record company weasels who put pressure on artists to compromise their own creative ambitions. If that’s not bad enough from an artists perspective, it may be even worse to have a sex-crazed music mogul chasing you around a piano, hoping to get some “action.” Yes, it happened to Benatar, and no, the weasel did not get any “action.”
Reading Benatar’s book provided a bit of insight into the careers of other female performers who had to struggle with similar obstacles while trying to make it in the music business as an attractive woman. A few years back, Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart spoke a bit about some of the obstacles they had to overcome, facing a lot of the same stereotyping and disrespect Benatar dealt with through the years.
There are a number of reasons to admire Pat Benatar. Beyond overcoming all the crap she had to put up with from power brokers who either refused to take her seriously as an artist, or simply viewed her as a sex symbol, she comes across as a very down-to-Earth person.
Unlike so many of her peers, she never fell victim to the party lifestyle. She did not make headlines by landing in rehab or jail. She worked as hard as any performer, but kept her head on straight and her feet on the ground.
One passage from the book really stuck with me, and really solidified the respect and admiration I have developed for Pat Benatar. Although she acknowledges in the book that she has very strong political ideals, she has always opted to avoid using her fame as a platform to further whatever political agenda she supports, and gives no hint as to what that might be. She does, however, seem put off by celebrities who don’t adhere to the same code. On that point, Pat Benatar and I are on the same page, so to speak.
I’ve got no reservations about recommending Benatar’s book. Loyal fans will obviously want to pick up a copy, but even for someone like me, who always had just a passing interest in Benatar and her music, it was interesting enough to keep me reading it until the end, and I am glad I did.
Sure, Pat Benatar is a successful artist and turned more than her share of heads in her day. One of those heads could have easily been mine. I never chased anyone around a piano, or anywhere else, for that matter, but Pat Benatar was just another cute rock chick in as far as I was concerned. Sharing the story of her life and career goes much further than exposing record company weasels – it also puts her in a whole new light.
Celebrities and rock stars are looked up to by their fans and are admired by many. Some of them handle fame well, and others may not. Personally, I always find myself most impressed by those that don’t elevate themselves above the everyday guy or gal. I’d say Pat Benatar is one of those rock stars I really admire. Not just because of her talent, ability, music, or appearance, but definitely because of her character.
Say it with me: Pat Benatar’s Between A Rock and A Heart Place is available on Amazon.com.