“You Don’t Know Me” was my favourite song of 2017… the song I always turned up the radio for when it came on… the song I always sung along with… the song I always looked forward to when the DJ said they’d be playing it after the commercial break.
In many ways, it’s a very simple song, but it’s infectious.
And it’s delivered with real attitude…RAYE’s vocals convey an inner strength, a pride in being an independent woman who knows their own mind…someone who takes no prisoners and takes no nonsense as they navigate their way through the world.
In the year of #MeToo, it’s a song for our times.
As a man, I’m ashamed by some of the things that have come to light during 2017. I’ve never been anything other than respectful to women…and I’ve never seen anyone behave in an inappropriate way towards a woman. But clearly there are people who have behaved appallingly…just because they could, and because they knew they could get away with it.
#MeToo should never have been necessary. If only we treated our fellow human beings with respect and consideration…irrespective of gender…the world would be a much better place.
It took immense courage for women to step forward out of the shadows and talk about what they went through. So many of their stories were heart-breaking.
Their experiences have taken an incalculable toll on their lives and careers, but they could talk to no-one. Or, worse, the people they spoke to dismissed their concerns, sided with their abusers or took it as an invitation to try the same things themselves.
For all the talk of major international strategic issues in our newsfeeds at the moment…Trump, Brexit, North Korea — you name it…humanity is rather missing the point.
Unless we can treat our fellow human beings with dignity and respect, nothing else really matters.
If women aren’t safe walking down a street after dark, that’s the most important problem to solve.
If you can be abused and mistreated just because you have a different race or religion to someone else, that’s the most important problem to solve.
If a child can’t grow up in a safe environment, get a good education and have enough food in their belly, that’s the most important problem to solve.
And do you know what?
If we solved those problems, all our big strategic issues would go away because at their heart the big issues come about because we haven’t solved what looks like the “little issues”.
But we’ve got that back to front.
We’re trying to solve problems that are impossible to solve until we solve the “little issues”. The little issues are the big issues…they’re hiding in plain sight, and as soon as they get sorted out, all the big issues will just melt away because we will have rediscovered our humanity.
#MeToo is just part of that, but it’s a start and a step in the right direction in getting at least one of the major issues of our time fixed for good.
So it was into that environment that “You Don’t Know Me” came along.
Although all the interviews I’ve read about this song are careful not to make any gender-based comparisons, I’ve always seen it as the song a lady might sing to a rather-too-persistent guy they’ve bumped into in a club somewhere.
RAYE is out with her friends, having a good time, and doesn’t want some guy to spend the night hitting on her. She makes it clear that the attention isn’t welcome…
See, I’m out with my girls, I’m a have a good time
Step back with your chit-chat, killin’ my vibe
She tries to keep it polite but firm…although by the end of this three minute song I was starting to feel a bit exasperated myself…goodness knows how women cope with this in real life…
See I can’t get too much of a good thing
S’why me dressed up in my finest things
Well, please hold your tongue
Don’t say a damn thing
RAYE is still keeping it polite, but firm. She says “please”, but combines that with “don’t say a damn thing”, hoping that this guy will finally get the message, even though he’s been rebuffed several times by now.
And still he keeps going…he gets his phone out to take a picture of her and asks for the umpteenth time if he can buy her a drink…again he’s rebuffed, politely but firmly…
See your iPhone camera flashin’
Please step back, it’s my style you’re crampin’
“You hear for long?” Oh no, I’m just passin’
“Do you want a drink?” Na, thanks for askin’
RAYE keeps it firm, but polite, all the way through. And in many ways, that’s the tragedy of this song. Why this guy can’t take a simple “no” for an answer is beyond me…but then, I’ve never been in this situation myself.
The way “You Don’t Know Me” tells its story is very powerful. And I especially like the message it gives to women and girls everywhere that just because a man asks…and even asks persistently…you’re still perfectly at liberty to tell him to get lost.
Keep it classy…keep it firm…respect yourself and your own decisions…but tell him to get lost if that’s how you feel.
“You Don’t Know Me” tells an important story for our times. But it tells that story over such an infectious tune. Putting both those elements together made “You Don’t Know Me” into a masterpiece.
Jax Jones sampled a 2005 track called “Body Language” to make his masterpiece (if you like your techno, you can give that track a listen here… https://youtu.be/VaQXQdh3698 … you’ll recognise the bass part from about 1' 20" onwards).
Jax Jones, RAYE and Jin Jin, who wrote “You Don’t Know Me” between them, created 2017’s song of the year for me. It might not be the most prestigious award in the music calendar, but it’s the most prestigious award I have to offer.
I give it to them gladly. And with the sincere hope that just maybe one guy somewhere has heard their song and thought to themselves “do I really come across as that much of a jerk when I don’t take ‘no’ for an answer from women?”
A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.
The full video below uses some strong language which may cause offence, and I wouldn’t want to do that. I normally keep this a family show, but when I can’t find a radio edit I link to the original. For a more radio-friendly version…albeit without quite such good audio…please go here… https://youtu.be/0m61XkXQbvI
For the original version…where you can hear just how infectious a track this is, especially if you listen through headphones, keep scrolling. But if strong language offends you, please stick with the link above.
(Please note parental advisory on the lyrics for the links below — for a more family friendly version, albeit without such good audio quality, please go to the link above.)
The video is below, but if you prefer to listen to this track on Spotify, you can find it here… https://open.spotify.com/track/1rFMYAZxBoAKSzXI54brMu