×

On her current tour, impending Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Pat Benatar is singing what she calls “the holy 14 — songs that if we don’t play them,” the audience will rebel. But not among those 14, surprisingly, is one of her best-known hits, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.” And Benatar allows that she has gotten some fan pushback on that, but she’s not giving in.

Her reason for dropping it from the show? Any possible literal connotations of the metaphoric lyrics in the strictly-for-fun classic rock tune, which she feels are inappropriate to sing in public in a time of multiple mass shootings.

“We’re not doing ‘Hit Me With Your Best shot,’ and fans are having a heart attack,” she said in a new interview with USA Today. “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.'” While she concedes 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. 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.”

Interestingly, Benatar has replaced “Hit Me” with another song that once had its own wayward connotations — the Beatles’ “Helter Skelter” — “because I want to have some (expletive) fun!” The singer also noted that some “songs we don’t always play” from her own catalog, like “In the Heat of the Night” and “I Need a Lover,” have been rotated back in.

Benatar noted that the song “Invincible” is “really important” to sing now, when the interviewer asked her feelings about the Roe v. Wade reversal. “I’m worried, like all of us, about fundamental autonomy rights,” she said. “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.”

USA Today asked the singer — who is on the road with her co-billed husband, Neil Giraldo — if she was bothered about not being selected for the Rock Hall sooner in her career.

“Never,” she answered. “What’s fun for us is to watch how excited everyone else is… It’s great for our kids. But the truth is, they’re acknowledging work that has already been done, so it doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t do anything to validate me as a person, but it’s nice.”