Drop The Pilot

Album: The Key (1983)
Charted: 11 78
Play Video


  • 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 a Songfacts 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 song 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 England, where she is based, and has several placings on the UK singles chart, but in America "Drop The Pilot" was her only trip to the Hot 100.
  • Mandy Moore recorded this in 2003 on her album Coverage.

Comments: 4

  • Rocky from Copper CoJason Hart, it IS "monkey" as in the metaphors of control:
    drop the pilot (who's flying your plane)
    drop the monkey (on your back)
    drop the mahout (riding you around).

    Marquee is what actually mkes no sense to me....
  • Jason Hart from Calcutta, IndiaI just love this song- from back when I was 12 years old ('84) when I first got to hear it...! It gained more significance as I grew up; and that video- even more brilliant now when I watch it, considering the era...!! To note- I always reckoned the lyrics went “Drop the Marquee, smell my perfume...” but online, I've seen them as- “Drop the Monkey.....” I wonder what they really are: Marquee sounds more apt to the rest of the song & video...
  • Brian Chew from DubaiIt was a splendid song back in 83 and it even better today, Drop the mahout indeed.
    Saw Joan on Sky News today and she looks so good, well done that woman.
    Oh and come to Dubai when you can.
  • John from Nashville, Tn"Drop The Pilot" was Joan's only Billboard Hot 100 Entry. It went to #87.
see more comments

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