Pat Benatar And Neil Giraldo, Doing What They Love
Pat Benatar ~ We Belong
A Tough Cookie With A Long History......
To quote one of her most famous songs, Pat Benatar is still a real tough cookie, even after being on the road for nearly 35 years now. How in the world she does it and still looks and sounds SO fantastic is beyond me! At age 60, Pat Benatar still has the vocal chops of someone 1/3 her age.
She can belt out one of her most rocking tunes from the early eighties like "Hit Me With Your Best Shot"... then two minutes later almost bring you to tears with a touching, soulful rendition of "We Belong"... without even blinking.
We were lucky to see Pat Benatar and her amazing husband, Neil Giraldo, at the Palms Hotel in the Pearl Showroom on Saturday night, June 15th, 2013. It was our first time ever seeing Pat, and it was one of the most fun and memorable concerts we have ever been to. What amazed me is that both Pat and Neil seem to be such incredibly down to earth and grounded people.
They seem to have such a strong foundation for marriage and for life, blended with a natural wisdom that comes from years of living together and working together. How they do that, by the way, is also beyond me. I don't know what I'd do if I had to work with my husband... but they do it beautifully. There is a special rhythm and cohesion to performing with someone you have been together with for a long time.
Voices begin to blend in a familial harmony that is almost otherworldly. Pat mentioned that they have been married for 31 years now, and that they've been close friends and working together for 35 years. To look at them, you would never believe it has been that long. The road has worn a lot of people down over many years, stolen a part of their soul, changed them into performers who work the stage almost on autopilot. This is definitely not the case with Pat and Neil.
They both seem to genuinely have a fondness and a true appreciation for the audience who has shown up for the show, who buys the records and keeps them able to do what they love best. They have a youthful love for the stage that few performers are able to keep after so many years of doing this job.
The road is not an easy place to be, nor is it an easy place to have a family and to raise well-grounded children. Yet, Pat and Neil have also been able to raise two daughters and to keep their career strong and still going. I saw a clip from a television special about stars and their children a while back, and Pat talked about how it is to put someone else first when you have a child, and what a freeing and amazing gift that is. She seems to completely "get" what it is to be a Mom, along with still being a "superstar."
I also read in a magazine once about how when their daughters were little, they would bring the girls and all the baby stuff along with them on the road. Pat joked about how she thought that some of the people who were helping them at the time probably wanted to wring their necks because of all the STUFF they had to bring. Children come with a lot of "stuff"... especially when they are very young.
For a while I guess, they were off the road after they had their second daughter. Pat continued to write, though, and to record and perform whenever she could. They just had to throttle back for a bit when their second daughter, Hana, came along. Having that second child will do that to a person sometimes.
A Little Of Pat Benatar's History ~
Pat was born Patricia Mae Andrzejewski in January of 1953 in New York, to her mother Mildred, who was a beautician, and her father Andrew, who was a sheet metal worker at the time. She had some experience performing in school, singing in various productions. She always seemed to have an interest in music. She surprised everyone, however, when she began college to pursue a medical career. She left college after that first year, at the very young age of nineteen, to marry her high school sweetheart, Dennis Benatar. At the time, he was enlisted in the Army.
After several moves to different states, and after nearly seven years together, they had grown apart and divorced. By this time, Pat had begun her music career. She told a funny story about performing in a club called "Catch A Rising Star" one night, and about the way she was discovered. She had been to a Halloween party earlier in the evening and was dressed basically as a "cat woman." With no time to change before going on stage, she went onstage and performed in her cat costume... spandex and all... and she got a standing ovation after her performance.
She was signed to Chrysalis Records. In 1979, she released the album "In The Heat Of The Night." Thus began a career that has spanned over three decades, and has seen Pat take home four Grammy awards. She has also had six platinum albums to her credit, along with four certified gold albums.
Her unique sound can be traced partly back to her musical training with a strong foundation in classical music. She was classified as a mezzo-soprano, with an incredible vocal range.
Pat told a story the night we saw her about how she was the second artist ever played on a brand new video channel, MTV. Her video was played after the very first video... c'mon, you know this one... it was called "Video Killed The Radio Star." I thought you'd remember it!
She told a funny story about how that first video did not have a guitar player in it, so her husband, Neil, was actually the FIRST person to play guitar on MTV, playing in her video. Now there's kind of a neat claim to fame! The night we saw them, we were blown away by the talent Neil has on guitar. You only get that through hard work and extreme dedication, which he has.
You can tell by watching him on guitar that he has played since childhood, and that playing guitar to him is like breathing. Not only is it second nature, it is completely necessary. Not everyone finds a passion and a dedication in this life the way that many good musicians do. I consider them to be very lucky to have found what their passion is early on.
Neil was the songwriter on the song "We Live For Love" from Pat's debut album. He has also been a producer over the years, as well as a songwriter and guitar player.
Some of Pat's other famous songs include "Heartbreaker," "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," Treat Me Right," "Promises In The Dark," "Love Is A Battlefield," "We Belong," "Invincible" and "All Fired Up."
Favorite Pat Benatar Song...
What Is Your Favorite Pat Benatar Song?
The Things That Impressed Me Most ~
I guess what made the biggest impression on me from seeing Pat Benatar live for the first time is the amazing vocal quality she has. She doesn't sound like she's "screaming" the way so many singers today sometimes do, and yet she can project that amazing voice all the way up to the highest rafters, effortlessly.
Another thing that really impressed me is that when she talked between songs, it made you realize what completely down to earth people she and Neil both are. They seem like an ordinary couple, one that could be living next door... with an amazing amount talent packed into just two people. They both seem to be genuinely grateful to the audience, fans and others like us, who maybe were there for the first time hearing them perform.
Something that really left an impression was when she talked to the audience at the end of the show and told everyone to "be sweet to their children, and never, ever drive after you've been drinking."
Well said and with such conviction. It made me wonder if she had ever had the horrible experience of being affected in some way by someone who had been drinking and driving. I don't know whether she ever has, or whether it is just something she feels strongly about.
Pat is known for philanthropic and fund-raising events like the Artists United Against Apartheid benefit she performed in back in 1985, and a Christmas song called "Please Come Home For Christmas" that was released in 1990 for troops who were involved in Desert Storm serving in the middle east.
Another surprise? During the final song of the show, "Heartbreaker," Pat suddenly went into a stunning rendition of the Johnny Cash song "Ring Of Fire." Johnny was smiling up in heaven hearing that one... it was one of those inspirational, hair raised on your arms experiences, and one we won't soon forget.
I'd like to thank Pat and Neil for an unforgettable night of great music! It was our first time seeing them and it won't be the last (Good Lord willing!)
~ Until then, we'd like to wish them safe travels, continued success, good health and happiness.