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The 'pillow therapy' that inspired Pat Benatar's 'Hit Me With Your Best Shot'

One of the best loved classic rock tunes of all time is ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’ by the American rock singer Pat Benatar. It was originally released as the second single from her sophomore album, Crimes of Passion, which went on to be her best selling album.

Pat Benatar had initially been inspired to pursue a career in the music industry after seeing a Liza Minelli performance in Richmond, Virginia, in the early 1970s. She quit her job and found work as a singing waitress before performing in lounge bands and musicals over the next few years.

Benatar’s breakthrough came in 1979, when she released her debut album, In the Heat of the Night, which eventually reached number 12 on the Billboard 200 album chart. It was the following year’s release, Crimes of Passion, however, that saw Benatar cement her place as a star in the industry, especially with the single release of ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’.

‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’ was actually written by Eddie Schwartz, who also wrote ‘Don’t Shed a Tear’, recorded by the English singer Paul Carrack. Schwartz revealed in a 2003 interview that he came up with the idea for the song during a time in his early adulthood when he was taking part in a strange form of therapy that involved releasing anger through hitting pillows.

“Well, I was in a kind of weird therapy when I was in my mid-20s,” Schwartz said. “It was called bioenergetics, I believe. And one of the things that we did was punch pillows – I guess it had something to do with getting out hostility.” 

“I went through a session where we punched pillows for a while,” Schwartz added, “and it all seemed kind of strange, but I remember walking outside this therapy session, but standing on the doorstep of this building that I’d been in – this small house in Toronto, actually – and this title just came to me, ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot,’ and it just kind of evolved from there [and] that’s how the song came to be.”

Shwartz also revealed that there is a common misconception surrounding ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’. Many believe that Benatar wrote the song herself. Schwartz said, however, “Obviously ‘Hit Me’ was such a huge global hit that that’s certainly the one people would know me [by] – if they know me at all. You know, most people think that Pat Benatar wrote the song.” But in fact, Schwartz wrote it during his experience with the peculiar ‘pillow therapy’ of his mid-20s.