Sunday, July 25, 2010

Book 70: Between a Heart and a Rock Place

Between a Heart and a Rock Place by Pat Benatar

I got my first CD player/Discman when I was in 3rd grade. After that, my parents tended to give me CDs of musicians they had liked for things such as Easter. Actually, my dad was the one who picked all those CDs out, and whenever I'd saved up my allowance and we were in a store that sold CDs I would often consult him and ask him for advice since I hadn't developed musical tastes of my own at that point. Beyond Whitney Houston. And later Madonna. I can't remember if my dad advised me to buy the two disc set that was Pat Benatar's Greatest Hits or if it was a gift, but I definitely had it. And I also remember making mixed tapes and having songs like "Love is a Battlefield," "Shadows of the Night," and "All Fired Up" on them. I also completely loved the song "We Belong" and still admit to liking it, though it is rather melodramatic.

While I haven't listened to that CD or any of the songs on it in ages, I was definitely drawn to Pat Benatar's memoir. We moved back to the States when I was 13, and that's also the year I got my very own television. I started watching way too much VH1, and am quite familiar with the Behind the Music stories. While Benatar certainly repeats some of the themes seen throughout the episodes, it was refreshing to read about a rock star that didn't spiral out of control or end up in rehab. In fact, at some points her comments about how it was about the music and her family, and that she was focused got a little repetitive though not to the point where I got irritated. While she didn't deal with that, like many other musicians, she had issues with her management, trusting the wrong people and contract problems with the record company.

I also never realized that she saw herself more as a member of a band than an solo artist, and her husband and guitarist, Spyder, was a huge influence on her music and the success of her career. It was great to read about a female artist that clearly labels herself as a feminist and to read about her struggles with sexism in the industry, from radio to her own label. She quickly became annoyed with her label's insistence on marketing her as "sexy woman" rather than "rock artist that happens to be female."

There were a few points where she seemed to contradict herself and others where she was a bit repetitive but for the most part I enjoyed reading about how the public reacted to her and her songs. Since I'd only ever owned the greatest hits album, I didn't know the proper chronology or how popular they had been during their time. It was a very quick read and I probably should have waited for the paperback since it was good but somewhat forgettable.

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