Drop the Pilot

Album: The Key (1983)
Charted: 11 78

Songfacts®:

  • In this ebullient song, Armatrading is imploring someone to leave their lover and take up with her, pointing out that this current affair has no fire: "You're kissing cousins, there's no smoke, no flame."

    In our interview with Armatrading, she said, "'Drop the Pilot' just means don't go out with that person, come out with me. It's just a different way of saying that."

    She added: "I could have said, "Don't go out with that person, come out with me," but it's not as intriguing, is it? The other words are a little more boring, this is a bit more mysterious."
  • In I Got Thunder: Black Women Songwriters and Their Craft, Armatrading explained that this was the result of her trying to write a hit: "I wanted to just write things that were catchy, and that's when 'Drop the Pilot' came about. I just wanted things that would catch people's attention. It's the only time I ever sat down to do that really. To say, 'I'm sitting down to write a single.' And it worked. It was very successful, a very popular song. Who knows why I wrote it, but it worked."

    Armatrading performed the song on Top of the Pops and various other shows. It quickly became a crowd favorite and a staple of her setlists.
  • Here's a word that doesn't show up in many pop songs: "mahout" (in the line, "Drop the mahout, I'm the easy rider").

    A mahout is an elephant rider, so it goes along with the idea of shedding the person who is controlling you. The word isn't completely obscure, as it shows up in Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book.
  • Armatrading has a fervent fanbase in her native England and has several placings on the UK singles chart, but in America, this was her only trip to the Hot 100.
  • Mandy Moore recorded this in 2003 on her album Coverage.

Comments: 1

  • John from Nashville, Tn"Drop The Pilot" was Joan's only Billboard Hot 100 Entry. It went to #87.
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