When Pat Benatar was given the song “Heartbreaker” to work on as part of her 1979 debut album In the Heat of the Night, she faced two main issues with the piece written by Geoff Gill and Cliff Wade.

After successfully reworking the lyrics, which were originally presented from a male character’s perspective, Benatar then struggled with finding the sound she knew she wanted for the music. The solution to the second issue was to help form a partnership that’s lasted for decades, as she told Uncle Joe Benson on the Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show.

“[T]he first song that we basically had all ready was ‘Heartbreaker,’” Benatar said. “When I got it, it had kinda all these English colloquialisms, and I changed a bunch of lyrics so it would fit. But the gender of the thing – bending the gender and having a female sing it instead … it was exactly what I wanted.”

The second issue was resolved by guitarist and later husband Neil Giraldo. “I heard it in my head but I couldn’t get anybody to play what I was hearing,” Benatar recalled. “And the minute he walked in, he knew exactly what I was talking about. He played it exactly the way that I wanted it, and the whole thing was born from that.”

Listen to Pat Benatar Perform 'Heartbreaker'

Released on Oct. 26, 1979, “Heartbreaker” went on to be Benatar's first hit single, reaching No. 23 after two previous releases failed to impact, and helped secure a career that’s spawned 12 studio albums and nine live albums to date.

Be sure to listen to Ultimate Classic Rock Nights on more than 50 stations across the U.S. from 7PM until midnight, Monday through Friday. You can see the list of radio stations where it airs here.

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