Rocker Pat Benatar’s recent setlists are missing one of her most popular songs: “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.”
The reason, she told USA Today in an interview published Thursday, is directly related to current events.
“We’re not doing ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot,’ and fans are having a heart attack,” Benatar said, “And I’m like, ‘I’m sorry, in deference to the victims of the families of these mass shootings, I’m not singing it.’ I tell them, ‘If you want to hear the song, go home and listen to it.'”
Lyrics of the 1980 song suggested it was about a physical fight: “Put up your dukes, let’s get down to it,” she sang in the first verse. But she then sings in the chorus, “Hit me with your best shot. Fire away.”
“(The title) is tongue in cheek, but you have to draw the line. I can’t say those words out loud with a smile on my face, I just can’t,” Benatar said. “I’m not going to go on stage and soapbox — I go to my legislators — but that’s my small contribution to protesting. I’m not going to sing it. Tough.”
Mass shootings in the United States have increased overall in the last few years, as illustrated by the Washington Post, based on statistics collected by the non-profit Gun Violence Archive.
Benatar had something to say, too, about another major news story of 2022: the Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn their 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, which said women had a constitutional right to abortion.
The singer was then asked how these events of 2022 affect the “tenor of the work you’re singing from 30 or 40 years ago.”
“Well, ‘Invincible’ is really important,” she said of her Grammy-nominated hit, which served as the theme for the 1985 movie The Legend of Billie Jean. “I’m worried, like all of us, about fundamental autonomy rights. This is a slippery slope. It’s not about abortion for me. I’m concerned that people are not paying attention to what this actually means.”
In that song, she sings, “We can’t afford to be innocent,” and later adds that it’s a “do or die situation.”