If you wanna get music books for cheap, HMV is a good place to go. Last week, I picked up Between a Heart and a Rock Place, Pat Benatar’s autobiography, for a mere eight bucks–almost 70 per cent off the list price of 27. I gotta say, I’m a big Pat Benatar fan, right up to her 1980 album, Crimes of Passion. Her later work was too new wave for me, too commercial. But those first two records have got some rockin’ tunes!
Anyways, it turns out that she didn’t really lead the rock star life, not like you’d expect. The narrative really shows what a decent, kind-hearted person Pat Benatar is, and when she says that she stayed away from all the drugs and the drinking, you believe her. Between a Heart and a Rock Place is largely a rock ‘n roll love story between Benatar and Neil “Spyder” Giraldo, her longtime lead guitarist/producer, who remained buried behind the scenes for most of her career. Sure, the book touches on sexism in the music industry, and how Pat sees herself as somewhat of a pioneer for female rockers, but while there are some less-than-kind words for the folks at Chrysalis Records in here, she otherwise doesn’t try to step on too many toes.
If you like Pat Benatar’s music, and wanna know the inside story behind all of her records–not to mention the legendary video shoots for “Shadows of the Night” and “Love is a Battlefield,” then this is an interesting read. But I’d say that if you’re not already a fan, this play-it-safe memoir isn’t all that exciting.
On the other hand, one of the most riveting rock reads I’ve picked up recently is Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway by Cherie Currie. Now this, on the other hand, is a true sex, drugs ‘n rock ‘n roll story, made all the more captivating by the fact that its protagonists were all teenagers at the time. Originally published as a Young Adult book in the early 80′s, it’s clear that the 2010 edition has undergone significant rewrites, as this book is definitely not suitable for younger audiences. Currie taps into her memory bank for vivid tales of being raped–not once, but twice–being set up with a “famous pop singer” (though she doesn’t name names) when she was 16–and on her period–and being locked up in an English prison, not to mention the everyday band drama and going through mounds of blow and crack cocaine, particularly in her post-Runaway days.
Yes, the movie with Dakota Fanning and that girl from Twilight was adapted from Neon Angel, and while you’ll find most of the movie in here, this book takes it to a whole ‘nother level. You don’t hafta be a Runaways fan to be shocked and awed by this Angel either, as Currie shows a seedier side of the music industry that a pop starlet like Pat Benatar seemingly didn’t experience. Currie lays it all out on the table here–much like Theo Fleury did in Playing with Fire, and the results are astonishing. Not for the faint of heart; but a wild ride for the rest of us.