"No, No, No": Evolution of a Hit Song

Written by
Dawn Penn
From blues to reggae, pop, French, and now Latin, Dawn Penn’s “You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No)” continues to inspire the artists who grew up listening to her 1994 hit song. 
Penn’s No, No, No (1994).

Jamaican-born Dawn Penn’s 1994 reggae classic, “You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No),” is still a hip song being spun by DJs in clubs and on the radio. The Jamaican artist’s big hit was also the name of her debut album, No, No, No. But Penn (b. 1952 Kingston, Jamaica) is no newcomer. She was already well-known in Jamaica by the time mainstream audiences around the world heard this later version of the song. The roots of “No, No, No” go back to an earlier song Penn recorded in 1967, titled, “You Don’t Love Me,” which itself was based on a 1960 song by Arkansan blues singer, Willie Cobbs, whose song can be traced back even further to a 1955 song by the great Chicago blues and R&B legend, Bo Diddley, titled, “She’s Fine, She’s Mine.” Both Diddley and Cobbs get songwriter credits for Penn’s song.

Penn’s later version of “You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No)” charted all over the world: It reached No. 3 on the U.K. singles chart; top 20 in Austria and Switzerland; and top 40 in the Netherlands and New Zealand, as well as charting here at home and on Billboard’s top 100 chart.

Boogaloo Assassins
Boogaloo Assassins

In addition to the song’s interesting genealogy, several artists have done their own covers of “No, No, No,” Rihanna and Beyoncé’s being two of the more recent, popular ones. But I’d also like to point out two other choice versions of the song that, like Diddley and Cobbs’s soulful early versions, aren’t nearly as well-known. First, there is one by the French-Algerian singer, Mèlaaz, who first became popular with the band, Alliance Ethnik, selling over a million copies of their combined hit singles. In 1995, she recorded a cool cover of Penn’s song, aptly retitled as “Non, Non, Non,” on a 12″ vinyl single, which instantly became an underground classic. Then there are also the cool LA-based Boogaloo Assassins, who recently released a Latin soul version of “No, No, No” on their debut album, Old Love Dies Hard.

“You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No)” is just one of those rare occasions where a hit song was a cover, and the covers that have followed have been just as good as the original, some maybe even better.

Bo Diddley’s funky 1955 progenitor, “She’s Fine, She’s Mine.”

Willie Cobbs’s 1960 version.

Dawn Penn’s earlier version of “You Don’t Love Me” from 1967.

Dawn Penn’s 1994 remake, titled, “You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No).”

French-Algerian Mèlaaz’s 1995 cover, “Non, Non, Non.”

Finally, LA’s own Boogaloo Assassins’ recent Latin version of “No, No, No,” performed live.

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