Continued from Part 1…
ShulmanSays: Word on the street is that you’re putting the finishing touches on a Christmas album.
Neil Giraldo: I am! It’s a great little project. The idea came from listening to a lot of Christmas songs, and Christmas records that I didn’t like that much. I love great songs, so I thought that maybe I should write some stuff that’s darker and maybe something about love found and then lost and then found again; because that period of time – whatever holiday you celebrate – it’s the end of the year, and people’s emotions always get kinda strung-out, they get sentimental, they get sad, they get happy. So, I just decided to write a bunch of songs that had a lot of quirkiness to them–
SS: So, it’s all original music, then; as opposed to Neil Giraldo sings “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”?
NG: No, no, no. This ain’t no “Frosty the Snowman” – it’s all original. And it’s probably not gonna be played on contemporary radio. It’s gonna be risky; it’s gonna be interesting; it’ll be great. It’s not gonna be outrageous or blasphemous. To quote a line from “Merry Christmas, Baby” – “If you’re lookin’ for your present, I’m it.”
SS: I also understand that you and Pat are releasing a cookbook. And she’s credited your Sicilian appetite as being a catalyst for getting her in the kitchen.
NG: Well, we’re putting together this cookbook because we thought it’d be fun to tell the stories of how the recipes came about, and how we created those recipes. And the reason is – I love to eat. I love it. And we love cooking, and like I do with music, I love to give our recipes a little twist, a quirk. In other words, if she’s doing something in the kitchen, I’ll throw in a little arugula or add some spice to it – always trying to create new things. Now, I do it because I wanna eat, and I love it. She does it because it makes her happy. Plus, she’s happy that I’m happy, and I’m happy because she’s happy. So, we’re having fun together, and it’s gonna be a good little cookbook.
SS: What is your favorite dish that your wife prepares?
NG: It’s the Italian Sunday gravy sauce. You know, the real traditional peasant marinara, thick meatball sauce. It’s one of those staples: If you make good sauce, you can make anything. Hey! She’s got it down!
SS: Now, Pat claims to make the world’s best chocolate chip cookies…
NG: Yes. She really does. They’re incredible. You know – she follows recipes really well, and she’s just got a knack. And our new assistant, Julie, is an amazing baker. And she bakes when she’s upset, so we purposely try to upset her, just so she’ll keep-on baking (laughing).
SS: Of all of the many professional accomplishments y’all have had (the second video played on MTV, first female artist on MTV, first guitarist shown on MTV, four consecutive GRAMMYs for “Best Female Rock Vocal Performance,”* three American Music Awards, etc.), of which are you most proud?
NG: The very first time we heard “Heartbreaker” on the radio – that was really special.
SS: You and Pat have been together for four decades. 40 years of working, living, touring, raising two children, writing and recording – often in very close quarters. Now, as much of a romantic as I am, it can’t possibly all have been rainbows, moonbeams, and walks in the gentle spring rain. Who gets on whose nerves, first?
NG: (chuckles) Uh… Um… I’m gonna say… Wow – that’s a 50:50 call, (and you’re gonna think I’m crazy, and you’re not gonna believe me), but for the most part, we just don’t get on each other’s nerves. It’s absolutely crazy. Honestly, it’s so, so rare, that it’s really stupid. I mean, it’s sickening. You’d hate us! (You really would.) We finish each other’s sentences: We share one brain. I’m just sorry that people have to be around us.
Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo
Get into it!
[Editor’s Note: Of the ten Grammy Awards ceremonies held in the 1980s, Pat Benatar was nominated nine times in the category of “Best Female Rock Vocal Performance,” winning for four consecutive years, with Crimes of Passion (1981), “Fire and Ice” (1982), “Shadows of the Night” (1983), and “Love is a Battlefield” (1984).]