Pat Benatar, Neil Giraldo discuss partnership in life, music

Megan Hix

The anthemic chorus of the 1983 hit song “Love Is A Battlefield” has made it one of the most iconic tracks of the ’80s. But a discussion with the married couple behind the song — singer Pat Benatar and guitarist Neil Giraldo — revealed it was almost never released.

“I’d come in with a song like 'Love Is A Battlefield,' and the [record company] would say it’s horrible, it’s never going to work,” Giraldo said. “They’d say, ‘It’s too fast. What is this rhythm? It’s crazy, it makes no sense.’ I’d say I’m not changing it, I believe in it. It worked.”

This wasn’t the only shocker at the songwriting duo’s SXSW appearance Wednesday afternoon. Here are five other facts Giraldo and Benatar shared with the crowd:

1. Before “Love is a Battlefield” and “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” Benatar was headed to Juilliard — but then considered quitting music altogether.

  • “I never actually, physically went to Juilliard. I was in high school, and I had been studying for eight years in preparation to go, but my boyfriend at the time was called for the draft, and I panicked and married him,” Benatar said. “So I stopped everything and was going to be a schoolteacher — imagine that.”

2. Giraldo and Benatar had to fight their record label in order to release music they wanted.

  • “I’d say I had this idea for a different kind of record; they’d say, ‘Why can’t you just do the same thing you did before? It worked,’” Giraldo said. “If you do something you think is relevant right now, by the time it gets released, it’s already going to be too old. So the battles I had with the record companies were all the time.”

3. Benatar found it difficult to be seen as more than the “girl in the band.”

  • “I wanted [the music] to be experienced on merit. This was a band that wrote really great songs. We had musicianship, we had singers, we had all of these wonderful talents — and we fought for it all the time,” Benatar said.

4. Their record label tried to keep Benatar and Giraldo’s relationship a secret.

  • “The record company really didn’t want anyone to know that we were a couple because they wanted to give the perception of this solo girl out front,” Giraldo said. “But the first day we hit that stage, we were already a couple. Nobody knew it but it was already a done deal.”

5. The secret to their partnership — in music and in marriage — is balance.

  • “Here’s the deal. In our relationship, someone’s got to be passive and someone’s got to be assertive,” Giraldo said. “In the studio, I’m the assertive one and the wife’s the passive one. In the family life and at home, she’s the assertive one and I’m the passive one. That’s why it works so well.”