If Pat Benatar is against war, she's chosen (so far) to keep "Love Is a Battlefield" on her concert tour playlist. Not so for one of her other famous hits, whose lyrics have now become problematic for the '80s star in the wake of America's proliferation of gun violence. Ahead of her appearance July 31 in the final episode of Epix's Women Who Rock series, the 69-year-old singer-songwriter sat down for an interview with USA Today to talk about holding her own in the music industry as a woman, her artistic rivalry with fellow '80s icons Debbie Harry and Joan Jett, and her longtime marriage to guitarist Neil Giraldo. Benatar also revealed that she will no longer be singing "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" during this tour.
"We have what we call the 'holy 14,' songs that if we don't play them, [fans will] give us [a hard time]," she told the paper. And indeed, fans are having a "heart attack" over her refusal to play "Hit Me," which Benatar now says has lyrics that don't sit well with her considering the mass shootings the nation is enduring. Entertainment Weekly lays out part of the chorus: "Why don't you hit me with your best shot / Hit me with your best shot / Fire away." Benatar says she made her decision out of respect to the families of mass shooting victims, noting that even though the title "is tongue-in-cheek ... you have to draw the line. I can't say those words out loud with a smile on my face, I just can't."
For disgruntled fans set on hearing the song, Benatar advises them to "go home and listen to it." She adds: "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." While Benatar won't be crooning that well-known tune, she's recently worked into the rotation a song by another group: "Helter Skelter," by the Beatles, which Variety notes "once had its own wayward connotations." When asked why she'd chosen to add that song into the mix, Benatar told USA Today, "Because I want to have some [expletive] fun!" More from Benatar's interview here. (Read more Pat Benatar stories.)