Lily Allen: Five songs that inspired me

1. It was pure coincidence that we wrote this song [Luck Be a Lady, from Company] on a boat in the middle of the night. We had to find a place to stay in Bermuda, we were flying at the time, and the manager of the hotel said, “This is a very modern hotel. I have a candle, and there are no curtains.” The only place to throw a blanket on a boat when you’re in Bermuda is down the bottom of the boat. The window was open all the way, it was sort of like being stuck in the middle of the sea, and there was a dead fish on the floor. We took some measures to make the album look better, and the manager suggested that we could sing about the staff. At that time, I had written a parody of a song and I put a custom t-shirt in the style of a towel that I had designed, the caption “I think it’s better if I’m awake,” because I thought it was pointless to do this song in the form of a drinking song. We put a t-shirt on stage, called a “real” t-shirt, and that was the only thing I had on me at the time, so we had to carry around a t-shirt and make it look like I was singing it.

The song is a metaphor for a woman overcoming disappointment. Nowadays I am annoyed with people who are too often happy, but back then I was really angry at the injustice that women faced every day. The song is celebrating female friendship, and I think every woman should be happy to have a good friend.

2. The double-entendre [“Long before the title] the title always came into my head when we were writing it; it doesn’t really matter what the first word was going to be. At the time [of rehearsals], my sister was pregnant with my son, and I remember thinking that I wanted to write a song for women that would be a sign of strength for women, not the title of a song. I wanted to use the word “journey”, and it was the twins, after I had written “I sing company” and “It has always been thus”, that came to mind.

As time went on, it seemed to be exactly what I was trying to say: people who pass your door don’t look behind it and they don’t really care if they pass you on your journey. They’re just passing and it’s like, “Well, I don’t want to stop,” which is a wonderful way to say it, isn’t it? And for me, the game is to say it more directly than with some kind of an innuendo. My sister has been very supportive of the song [written with Fred Ebb], she was like, “Oh my god, that’s exactly what you’re talking about,” and now when I hear people singing “I sing company”, I’m going to sound embarrassed.

3. During my career, I have made some poor decisions about what time to work and I would like to keep going on for as long as possible. I used to have to rush, and the impression I’ve gotten was that I would go out and have a glass of wine, make some foolish decisions and go home. My answer is yes, I would like to keep on going.

4. I have been working from 1949 to now; it’s ridiculous to have started doing it the year I graduated from NYU. At that time, the most elaborate thing that my father ever spent money on me was the dinner at his house that I ate and his report on the evening. Maybe my father thought this sort of went along with the standards I had set for myself, but I didn’t even think about the dinner and all I remember is going home and wondering if I had done any good.

5. As far as the music business is concerned, things have changed a lot since 1950; some people get so involved that it puts a lot of pressure on the relationship, and although we keep a relationship going, you have to be realistic enough to understand that you are friends, you are not business partners. I really don’t have any interest in becoming a manager. I’ve never said that a lot, but I do now, and in a way, we end up looking alike – we have this mutual interest in their work, but the truth is, there are not many musical artists that we admire.

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