Suggest a Songfact / Artistfact
Album: Crimes Of PassionReleased: 1980
Benatar wrote this song with her guitarist (and future husband) Neil Giraldo, and her bass player Roger Capps. The song is about child abuse. When we spoke with Giraldo, he explained: "That song was inspired by an article that Patricia read in the New York Times
about child abuse. That started the lyric off, and the lyric went from her to Roger. Roger added a few lines to that. And then some form of the melody started being constructed. I got a hold of it and I finished writing the melody and I worked on the chorus, and I did the outro section to build it up, because I wanted the whole song to be very sad as the beginning. I wanted to make it intense so you could really feel the pain of what the song was about. So by the time it ended, you've got to be exhausted. And that was the point. 'Hell is for hell,' like a very powerful moment." (Here's our full interview with Neil Giraldo
In an interview with Portfolio Weekly, Benatar explained: "I was living in New York when we wrote it and the New York Times did a series of articles about child abuse in America. I came from a really small town on Long Island and I had no idea that this existed, not in the little gingerbread place I came from. I was stunned. It affected me so much. I was moved by the articles. Whenever that would happen I would write. I said to Neil, 'I want you to do something to the music that it sounds like pain. I want the intense pain that's happening to these children in the notes,' and so he did and it turned out just great. It became an anthem. I always wonder if other people have lofty intentions. I didn't.
We started a foundation for abused children. Then we had all these grownups writing letters saying no one had addressed this in this way before and that it was so great having someone in rock-n-roll doing this. It turned into this other thing that I don't think any of us foresaw. The anguish is there. Every time I sing it I really remember the afternoon when we talked about it."
Many listeners thought Benatar was singing about her own experience with child abuse, but that was far from true. Neil Giraldo told us: "Everybody thought that it was real. They thought that Patricia was abused as a child, which wasn't the case. She had a great upbringing. You couldn't get more Happy Days-like than her. She had the perfect Happy Days life. There was other abuse happening in my family, but it was a different type of thing, more verbal, but not physical like the song depicts.
I'm glad it turned out the way it did. It's one of my favorite songs that we wrote, and it really has a very powerful effect on people. And it's great to play, it's great to sing, great to hear, great to feel."
On the Crimes Of Passion
album, this follows "Hit Me With Your Best Shot
," a song whose writer, Eddie Schwartz, told us is about empowerment, not masochism or abuse.