June 18, 2010 -- Pat Benatar has been rocking out since before it was a girl thing to do.
The four-time Grammy Award winning vocalist said she didn't want to be just a girl who sang in a band.
"I just wanted to be a rocker," she said.
While her contemporaries sang forlorn songs about their broken hearts and lost loves, her 1979 debut album, "In the Heat of the Night," featuring the song "Heartbreaker," with her signature powerful vocals, tough sexuality, and power chords, had her coming out looking like a badass.
"This song was about, 'Get over it. You hurt me. You're gonna pay. I'm not going to stand here. I'm not going to take it,'" she said. "I always say that I would play it if I have to come out in a walker. I'll be singing 'Heartbreaker' until I die."
Below are Benatar's top picks for some of the other songs she'll continue to play for years to come.
The Beatles: 'She Loves You'
Born Patricia Mae Andrzejewski in Brooklyn, Benatar and her family moved to Long Island when she was three years old.
She became interested in theater and took voice lessons as a child, singing in school and church choirs whenever she could.
She vividly remembers begging her parents to let her watch "The Ed Sullivan Show" one evening, even though the family only had one television.
"I begged my parents, 'Please let me watch this, I want to watch this, the Beatles are going to be on,'" she recalled, saying that she was "going crazy," screaming and jumping as they played.
According to Benatar, "Every time they would go, 'She loves you, yeah yeah yeah ... with a love like that ... [I was] screaming my guts out, and my father would be like, 'Make her stop that.'
"So that was a huge moment in my life," she said, laughing.
Judy Garland: 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow'
Benatar said she adored Judy Garland and her style, particularly in "The Wizard of Oz." With the concept of renting movies still off in the future, she would have to wait an entire year to watch the film when it aired on TV.
"They usually played it on Thanksgiving in New York," she said. "You would wait and anticipate this all the time because you knew that on Thanksgiving Day ... you were going to get to watch it again."
Of Garland, she said, "I was just mesmerized by her. I loved her, and I loved that song."
The Clash: 'London Calling'
In the late 1970s, Benatar lived in New York.
Amid the cacophony of disco, for which she said she had little affection, she looked to bands like The Clash.
"I was happy to hear 'London Calling' 25 times a day," she said.
"I was really looking for that edgy kind of thing, so that was the perfect genre right there in music," she said, adding that she appreciated "anything that didn't have to do with that roller skating, disco music kind of a thing."
Lady Gaga: 'Paparazzi'
"The minute I heard Lady Gaga, I knew," Benatar said of the American recording artist.
Benatar said that she especially admires how Lady Gaga is infusing a sense of joy and fun into her music and performances.
"'Paparazzi' -- it's great. I love it," she said. "I love all that pouting she does. She sounds like Betty Boop on there."
Benatar thinks peoples' lives can be difficult and that music should be used to lighten things up.
"You get the opportunity to have the gift," she said. "You should be sharing that and making people's lives better."
Frank Sinatra: 'Come Fly With Me'
Benatar said she's a big fan of Sinatra-era tunes, as well, and had the pleasure of meeting the singer/actor at a club in the late 1970s.
Sinatra was leaving when he noticed Benatar standing with her manager, Ricky Newman, and asked about her.
"Newman says, 'Oh this is Pat Benatar. She's a new singer and she's really great. You're going to be hearing about her,'" she recalled.
She said that Sinatra pinched her cheek.
"'[He said], 'Who couldn't love this little doll face?'" she said, marveling on how surreal the experience was for her. "His eyes were exactly like they say -- they were so blue. And I was looking at him thinking, 'Oh my God, I'm looking at Frank Sinatra.'"
From 'South Pacific': 'Some Enchanted Evening'
Benatar admitted that show tunes are a guilty pleasure for her because they provide a reprieve from all of the pop music that permeates her life and career. She added that a longtime love for theater doesn't hurt either.
"That's why I love to play," she said. "The reason I still drag my butt out there for 10 to 12 weeks out of the year is because I absolutely love performance."
Benatar said that although she enjoys making records, she considers it self-indulgent. Where she really wants to be is onstage, performing for an audience.
"The whole point to me is this shared experience that happens between us," she said. "It's very seductive.
"It's the reason I started doing it," she said, "and it's the reason I continue to do it."