Promises in the Dark

Album: Precious Time (1981)
Charted: 38

Songfacts®:

  • Benatar wrote this song with her guitarist and future husband Neil Giraldo. The song deals with trials and tribulations of past relationships and how they affect the one you're in now. Haven't we all had to tend the emotional scars left behind from whoever got there first? In the case of Giraldo and Benatar, things worked out quite well: they got married in a cow pasture in Maui in 1982, and have been married ever since. They've also continued their musical partnership as well, with Giraldo producing all of Benatar's next albums.
  • Giraldo and Benatar were dating when they wrote this song, which was early in their musical partnership. In our interview with Neil Giraldo, he explained: "That was a song that Patricia started first. I mean, I start probably 93% of them, and she'll jump in after I get it started. But she actually started writing that on an airplane. And then she put some words together, and she said, 'Here, try to do something with this thing.'

    Actually she slipped the words under the door of our music room in this little house we had. We wrote that I think in 1980. Even though we could have put it on Crimes of Passion, we ended up putting it on Precious Time instead. But she put the words under the door because she was too embarrassed to let me see the words face to face.

    Then she had a little bit of an idea of a melody, so I took a little bit of what that was, and I wrote it on piano in our little music room. My favorite guitar I had in the room at the time fell and busted while I was writing, and busted the top of the neck off it. So that was like a curse. And then when we went to record it, we had everything but the last verse, and then I just wrote the words for the last verse in the studio while we were recording it. So that's how that one goes."
  • Precious Time cracked the #1 spot on the US albums chart for a week, and helped establish Benatar as an '80s icon. A former bank clerk and singing waitress, she was a classically trained singer who could rock the spandex and big jewelry, making her an MTV favorite as well as a mainstay on pop radio.
  • Hinting at the personal nature of this song, Benatar told Songwriter Connection magazine in 1984: "Sometimes I really hate singing in the first person - it's so personal sometimes... I do mostly observational lyric but if it's directly from something that happened, I can't stand to sing it in first person. I'd rather sing it as we or they or you, or something else."
  • Neil Giraldo tells us that he knew early on that this song had hit potential. He explained: "I thought it was deep in a really good way. I think that it was a commercial hit, but I love the expression of the melody. It gave a lot of room for the vocal to be powerful. And then when we rehearsed the song, that's where I came up with that little guitar riff, which is the signature to that break between the slow part and the fast part. When I hit that in rehearsal and I put the song way up tempo - because the song was a ballad - I found I hit that, then I knew, I went, 'Oh, we got something now. This is going to work.' I knew it right then we had it."

Comments: 4

  • Lovelane from Grand Rapids, MiActually, the 2nd video shown on Mtv was "You Better Run", not "Promises".
  • Ghostgetter from Dallas, TxOf the first ten videos played on MTV on the first day on air, #1 was Video Killed The Radio Star by the Buggles and the second was Pat Benatar Promises In The Dark.
    GhostGetter Dallas,TX
  • Pat from St. Paul, MnLove Pat's skin-tight jumpsuit in the video for this song.
  • Robert from AucklandIn New Zealand in early 1986, there was a hostage drama, and the guy known as 'tigertooth' only communicated to police through the local radio station 2XS. (Palmerston North) This was the song that he requested, time and time again.
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