Pat Benatar Gets the Girl

Eighties icon returns with an album made on her own terms

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"I keep thinking we're going to stop and retire, but I don't think so," Pat Benatar says by phone from her Malibu home. "I can't imagine my life without this. And I really am enjoying making music more than ever." Benatar and husband/guitarist Neil Giraldo are set to return next spring with Girl, the first new studio release from Benatar since 1997's Innamorata.

"It's a contemporary guitar-driven record," Benatar says. "We've been working on it forever. I really like it. It sounds like us, and the natural progression of where we should be. And it's not being interfered with, which is the part I like best," she adds proudly.

Frustrated with the ways of the music industry, Benatar and Giraldo decided to finish the record before shopping it for a deal. "I'm not interested in that world," she says. "I don't need to be standing with a twenty-two-year-old who's telling me what to do."

Despite the need to get a deal ironed out, the couple is optimistic the record will be released in the first half of next year. "In a perfect world, it would be out May 1st," Giraldo says. "We've written 100 percent of it, but probably only eighty percent of that will stick by the time we're done. So we'll need to write a few more songs."

Among the songs Benatar says will make the record are the title track, which she describes as being about "my usual: empowerment and not taking crap from anyone"; "Sorry," and "Out of the Ruins," a song that holds particular poignancy for her.

"It's a song about a couple in England who get together at the beginning of the Holocaust," she explains. "They get separated and he goes looking for her, to no avail. The chorus goes, 'Out of the ruins, he called her name/Echoing through the ruins/But no one answered.'"

In response to the September 11th tragedies, Benatar recorded a new single called "Christmas in America" that is due out in the coming weeks. "I can't remember ever be affected by anything like that," she says. "I grew up in New York and watched them build the towers."

The couple also recently wrapped up filming a guest appearance on the Thanksgiving episode of the ABC sitcom Dharma and Greg. "We play ourselves," Benatar explains. "We're stranded in an airport with [sitcom characters, Dharma and Greg] and a couple that is going to get married. Dharma throws a wedding for them and we sing [the Carpenters'] 'We've Only Just Begun.'" The episode airs November 20th. In appearing on the show, the couple joins some pretty heady company -- Bob Dylan was the only other musician to appear on the series.

"Us and Bob Dylan," Giraldo says. "That's pretty good."