In the early 1980s, when Pat Benatar released the heartbreak anthem "Love is a Battlefield," I was too young to care or understand. At the time, the only heartache I may have felt was when Mom took the pacifier out of my mouth or wouldn't let me have a cookie.
Benatar's video is basically a montage of negative encounters with men, starting with her being forbidden from seeing her jailbait boyfriend (or little brother? or kid she tutors?), after which she runs off to the city, only to be bumped in the arm by a burly dude coming up an escalator, accept a dance with a creepy mustache man, throw water in a guido's face and finally assert her independence by shimmying out of a bar with a bunch of women. But at least the whole thing ends in hugs.
A couple of months ago, Thao Nguyen and Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn (who released an album together in April) recorded a stripped-down version of the hit during a live studio session in Oakland. With Mirah on the mic, the song takes on a more soothing veneer. It's not so much a fervid catharsis as it is a casual assertion, backed only by xylophone and soft drum thuds.
In my youth, I connected to Benatar's intensity regarding relationships. But now, Thao & Mirah's relaxed rendition is a far better reflection of how I regard this particular warzone. Instead of going down in a blaze of glory, we wave our white flags and say, "Fuck it. Somebody get me a pacifier and a cookie."