What’s love? We sing about it, write about it, and fight about it. But we hardly understand it. Ernest Hemingway admitted he could write well only when he was in love. Schopenhauer relates us to hedgehogs who can never get intimate without pricking a lover with our proverbial quills. Outkast’s André 3000 asks, if nothing lasts forever, then what makes us think love is the exception? And Pat Benatar simply sings, “Love Is a Battlefield.”
Love comes in degrees and with tons of caveats. It can be unconditional, circumstantial, comfortable, convenient, opportunistic, relativistic, tidal, or tsunamic. It can arrive as a drizzle or a downpour and vanish just as quickly. America’s divorce rate is over half its marriage rate, according to the CDC.
Still, there are couples who’ve proved that commitment and compromise are possible and that love at least exists. An unexpected example comes from the very singer who compared love to a war zone. Pat Benatar and guitarist Neil Giraldo embark on 35 years of love and rock ’n’ roll with their most recent anniversary tour.
Pat and Neil’s romance is such a fairy tale that it seems fictitious. She describes their first encounter to CBS News as “a blinding white light… I just saw him, and all I kept thinking to myself is like, There you are. Where have you been?” Neil added, in contrast to his past lovers, “[Pat] was like perfectly normal.” Get a room, you two. Or get back onstage.
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Their love at first sight occurred in late-’70s New York, where the pair began recording. Neil started out as lead guitarist and soon stepped up to producer when he comforted a sobbing Benatar through the emotional vocals to “Hell Is for Children.” He’s produced each of her albums since.
The authenticity of their love — the ups and the downs — can be almost too easily interpreted from the titles of their songs and albums. In the Heat of the Night featured such tracks as “I Need a Lover,” “If you Think You Know How to Love Me,” and Giraldo’s own, “We Live for Love.” Crimes of Passion features “Prisoner of Love” and Giraldo’s “Little Paradise.” Pat’s sound may have mutated from rock to pop through the ’80s and ’90s, but she nonetheless kept an emphasis on affection with albums like True Love and hits like the aforementioned “Love Is a Battlefield.”
Music is full of hollow affection. Troubled relationships garner more press than healthy ones, and most musical marriages are bound to fail. The rest seem more like calculated career moves than legitimate acts of love. But Pat and Neil stand proud among others as longtime lovers and a true rock duo.
Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo. 8 p.m. Thursday, May 21, at Hard Rock Live, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood. Call 866-502-7529, or visit seminolehardrockhollywood.com. Tickets cost $35 to $60 plus fees via ticketmaster.com.