You Better Run - Pat Benatar (mp3)
Take It Any Way You Want It - Pat Benatar (mp3)
Were I God, I would have created a serendipitous series of events that allowed Pat Benatar to marry Rick Springfield. By now, their son, Patrick Springatar, would be in his late 20s and burning up the charts with the kind of power pop we’re sorely missing. But I digress.
Because I was just a kid, I was relatively tardy to the Pat Benatar party. I’d seen a few of her videos and heard her on the local radio station. Trivia moment: Benatar’s video for “You Better Run” was the second video ever played by MTV. Proof nobody remembers second place.
I was given the 45 for “Shadows of the Night” as a Christmas gift in 1982. I was 10. It grew on me very slowly.
For some reason, the song “Anxiety (Get Nervous)” got more of my attention. Maybe the Billy Joel song “Pressure,” released the previous spring and in a similar pop pseudo-psychology vein, laid the groundwork for me being intrigued. Somehow I tie these songs and that time in my life as the first signs I would eventually seek out a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
First I got her Get Nervous album. Then I expanded my obsession when two other albums, Crimes of Passion and Precious Time, were offered at the “Nice Price” of $3.99 each. For a couple of months, these three albums comprised most of what occupied my orbital lobes.
Love is a Battlefield,” was born cheesy and only gets worse over the years.
The video for “Shadows of the Night” arguably gave Quentin Tarantino inspiration for Inglorious Basterds. It was still a bad video though.
Her first five studio albums (and one concert album) all went platinum. She released these albums over six years. Think about that. One platinum-selling LP every year for six straight years. While not unprecedented, and while certainly not Beatles-esque, I dare you to find anyone in the last 20 years capable of competing with that kind of release pace and unbroken popularity.
Eminem had four platinum albums in six years. Mariah Carey had 10 platinum albums in 15 years and nine in 12, which is about as close as I suspect you’ll get (and, arguably, more impressive).
It’s also worth noting that, in an era where female stars rose the ranks on sex appeal, Benatar didn’t -- perhaps couldn’t or wouldn’t -- win at that particular game. Nothing about her looks or her behavior worked the Madonna or Lita Ford angle, and even Heart, a legitimately respectable musical force, kicked up another level of fame on the exposed cleavage and leg kicks of Nancy Wilson.
In fact, many of her videos seemed almost dead set on not calling too much attention to her in such a way. Her song "Sex as a Weapon" was not posing. She'd earned some of the right to take that stand... (even if she didn't write that song or anything else she sang).
The nature of our relationship to popular musicians over the course of time is to remember the 24 different greatest hits albums released rather than for their original LPs. With the possible exception of Led Zeppelin or the Beatles (or, I guess, Radiohead), we measure people by their hits. While Pat comes away looking plenty fine when measured by her hits, it seems a shame that a lot of quality pop rock gets neglected.
You can go buy Crimes of Passion as an mp3 download for only $5. It’s probably her best overall album.