Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” has become a staple at karaoke bars, sports stadiums and movies since it hit the airwaves in 1980. to fire away has become synonymous with the decade known for its neon colors, glam metal bands and aerobic classes.
At its core, “It’s a song that says, ‘No matter what you throw at me, I can handle it, I can play in your league,'” said the song’s author Eddie Schwartz. But even if the reference to guns is tongue-in-cheek, Benatar said “you have to draw the line” amid the spate of deadly shootings that have plunged the nation into collective grief.
“I can’t say those words out loud with a smile on my face, I just can’t,” Benatar told USA Today.
So far this year in the United States there has not been a week without a mass shooting. In fact, there hasn’t been a week since July 4 without at least four mass shootings.
In 2022, the country was rocked by 357 — including those in Uvalde, Texas, one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history, and in Highland, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which defines mass shootings as the killing or injuring of at least four victims Park, Illinois, where spectators at the July 4th parade were attacked.
At that rate, the pace is comparable to last year, which was marked by nearly 700 mass shootings — a significant increase from 2020’s 611 and 2019’s 417. At least 371 people have been killed in these mass shootings so far this year, and 1,557 others were injured, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
There are too many mass shootings for the US media to cover
For Benatar, it’s the thought of these victims’ families that kept her from singing “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” she told USA Today. But it’s also “my small contribution to the protest,” she told the outlet.
The soon-to-be inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame isn’t the only celebrity drawing attention to the gun violence epidemic. Hours after the Uvalde shooting, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr implored senators to put “the lives of our children, our elderly and our churchgoers” ahead of their own desire for power. Days later, actor Matthew McConaughey made a passionate call to action in the White House briefing room, once showing off a pair of green Converse sneakers that belonged to a 10-year-old victim.
And Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson announced this week that he will no longer use the nickname “AR-15” — based on his initials and jersey number — as it is associated with the semi-automatic rifle that used in a series of gunfights.
However, fans don’t seem too happy about Benatar’s ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’ boycott. They “are having a heart attack” at not being included in the setlists of their other power ballads, such as “We Belong” and “Heartbreaker,” the singer told USA Today.
In 1980, Benatar talks about her fame
Schwartz, the songwriter, first recorded “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” in his mid-20s on a four-track demo. The music publisher “hated it” and eventually deleted the recordings, Schwartz told Songfacts. However, an engineer saved a copy of the demo for Schwartz, who sent it to another producer.
“And sure enough, he liked it and he played it over and over again,” Schwartz told Songfacts. “And the story I heard — I wasn’t there — was that Pat Benatar attended a meeting in the office next door and heard it through the wall and got upset about it.”
A year later, Benatar’s version of “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” reached #9 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was her first Top 10 hit.
Since then, the song has cemented its status as a classic and fans have come to expect to hear it at their shows. But Benatar gives them something else on this tour – it’s her Playing the Beatles’ “Helter Skelter,” which is also curiously associated with a violent episode in American history: the 1969 murders of Charles Manson.