Walk Away Renée: Wikis


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"Walk Away Renée"
Single by The Left Banke
from the album Walk Away Renée/Pretty Ballerina
Released July 1966
Genre Pop Rock
Length 2:43
Label Smash
Writer(s) Michael Brown, Bob Calilli, Tony Sansone
Producer Harry Lookofsky
The Left Banke singles chronology
"Walk Away Renée"
"Pretty Ballerina"

"Walk Away Renée" is a song made popular by the band The Left Banke in 1966 (single release: July 1966, Smash Records, title printed as "Walk Away Renee"), composed by the group's then 16-year-old keyboard player Michael Brown (real name Michael Lookofsky) and Tony Sansone. Bob Calilli is also credited as a writer, though he didn't actually write any of the lyrics or music - he received credit in exchange for setting up the session in which the writing stage of the song was completed. The song was also a chart hit for the Motown group The Four Tops in 1968.

The song features a flute being played during the instrumental bridge of the middle portion of the song. Michael Brown got the idea for the flute solo from The Mamas & the Papas song "California Dreamin'" which had been recorded in November 1965 but wasn't a hit and in heavy rotation until early 1966.[1] The song also includes a lush Obbligato string orchestration, memorable harpsichord accompaniment, and a falling chromatic bass melody which led critics to refer to the group's sound as Baroque pop[2], "Bach-Rock" or Baroque n Roll[3].

Rolling Stone placed the song at number 220 in the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[4] After its initial release, it spent thirteen weeks on the charts with a top spot at #5.[5] It has been widely covered by artists in a wide range of genres and styles, often with great success. For example, Linda Ronstadt and Ann Savoy recently covered the song on their album Adieu False Heart. The New York Times' reviewer Jon Pareles stated of their cover version that:

“ Their spare reading of the Left Banke's 1965 hit "Walk Away Renee" brings the lyric's ache into full relief, and allows Ronstadt a brief return to the pop-rock milieu from which she emerged ”[6]


The real Renée

The song is one of a number Brown wrote about Renee Fladen-Kamm, then-girlfriend of The Left Banke's bassist Tom Finn and object of Brown's affection. She was associated with the band for a few weeks, and described as a free-spirited and quite tall blonde. The song was written one month after Brown met her.[7] "Walk Away Renée" was one of series of love songs the infatuated Brown wrote after meeting his newfound muse.[8] Other songs written about her include the band's second hit "Pretty Ballerina" and "She May Call You Up Tonight". After decades of obscurity, she was identified in 2001 as a noted singer, vocal teacher and artist on the West Coast.[9 ]

Brown says of his unrequited love for Renée:

"I was just sort of mythologically in love, if you know what I mean, without having evidence in fact or in deed...But I was as close as anybody could be to the real thing"[7]

Fladen-Kamm was looking on during the recording of the song, and her presence nearly prevented its completion. In an interview, Brown stated:

"My hands were shaking when I tried to play, because she was right there in the control room," he says. "There was no way I could do it with her around, so I came back and did it later.[10]"

Session details

  • Drums: Al Rogers
  • Bass: John Abbott
  • Guitar: George (Fluffer) Hirsh
  • Harpsichord: Mike Brown
  • Strings: Harry Lookofsky & Friends
  • Flute: unknown session musician
  • Arranger: John Abbott
  • Lead Vocal: Steve Martin Caro
  • Backing Vocals: George Cameron & Tom Finn
  • Engineer: Steve Jerome
  • Studio: World United NYC
  • Date: early (1966)
  • Produced By Harry Lookofsky, Steve Jerome, Bill Jerome[11]

Cultural references

  • The title of Storm Thorgerson's 1978 book "The Work of Hipgnosis 'Walk Away René'".
  • The Belle and Sebastian song "Piazza New York Catcher" contains the line "You’d settle for an epitaph like 'Walk Away, Renee'."[13] The opening of 'The Model' uses the same arrangement as the opening of 'Walk Away, Renee'.
  • Singer Rod Stewart named his daughter born in 1992 Renée because "Walk Away Renée" is one of his favorite songs[15]. Her mother is model Rachel Hunter.
  • Celebrity manicurist and Jazz recording artist, Deborah Lippman[16] has a line of celebrity inspired nail colors which are frequently named after songs. One of her popular colors is a shade of burgundy co-created with Renée Zellweger and named after the song Walk Away Renée. [17][18][19]

Notable cover versions

  • The Four Tops have the most successful cover of the song. It was released as a single from the Tops' 1967 LP Reach Out and reached #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1968.
  • The Cowsills performed the song on their 1969 live album The Cowsills In Concert.
  • Frankie Valli recorded and released a disco version on his 1975 album Our Day Will Come[20].
  • The Japanese female pop duo Pink Lady included a version of "Walk Away Renee" on their first and only American album in 1979.
  • John O'Banion covered the song on his 1st EP John O'Banion 1981.
  • Rickie Lee Jones covered the song on her 1985 EP Girl at Her Volcano[21].
  • Southside Johnny covered the song on his 1986 album At Least We Got Shoes[22]. As a single, it reached #98 on the Billboard Hot 100.
  • Herbs covered the song on their 1990 Joe Walsh-produced Homegrown album.
  • Jimmy LaFave includes a live version on his 1993 album Austin Skyline.
  • Marshall Crenshaw included a cover version with slightly altered lyrics on his 2001 album I've Suffered For My Art...Now It's Your Turn[23].
  • Billy Bragg has covered the song, but with different lyrics.[24]
  • Lotion covered the song for their 1995 release The Agnew Funeral E.P.
  • Vonda Shepard sang it on the television series, Ally McBeal, referring to one of the characters who was called Renee. Her version appeared on the album, Songs From Ally McBeal.
  • T'Pau performed the song at their concerts, and used a recording from one such performance as one of the 'B' tracks for the CD single of their hit, "I Will Be With You."
  • Tori Amos performed the song in honor of Schapelle Corby at her May 10, 2005 show in Brisbane, Australia[25].
  • Les Fradkin has a version on his 2006 release- Goin' Back.
  • David Cassidy covered the song on his 2003 album Touch of Blue[26].
  • The Ronstadt/Savoy cover was used as a closing song for NBC's Crossing Jordan in January 2007.
  • GJORGI covered the song on his 2nd EP Now And Forever in 2008[27]. This version was produced one of the song's co-writers, Tony Sansone, including an extra verse which was written by Sansone in 1975 for Frankie Valli[28].
  • Rick Price covered the song on his album Revisited.


  1. ^ NPR : California Dreamin', Present at the Creation
  2. ^ The Left Banke: Walk Away Renee by Roger Bourland July 15th, 2006. Accessed May 6, 2008
  4. ^ The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time : Rolling Stone
  5. ^ Walk Away Renee : Rolling Stone
  6. ^ NEW YORK TIMES Review by Jon Pareles posted on Ann Savoy's Official Website
  7. ^ a b Walk Away Reneefrom leftbanke.nu
  8. ^ Dave Simons Studio Stories: How The Great New York Records Were Made : From Miles To Madonna, Sinatra To The Ramones Page 168 Backbeat Books, 2004 ISBN 0879308176
  9. ^ Renee’s Still Walking Away, 40 Years On by John Stodder Sunday, July 30, 2006 from the Blog From the Desert to the Sea… Accessed August 28 2008
  10. ^ The Left Banke from ClassicBands.Com Biographies of your favourite classic rock bands. Accessed May 6, 2008
  11. ^ Session Notes For Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina LP From Leftbanke.nu
  12. ^ More Than a Feeling : Rolling Stone
  13. ^ Belle and Sebastianfrom Dear Catastrophe Waitress lyrics to "Piazza New York Catcher". Accessed July 1 2007
  14. ^ Entertainment Weekly #910, December 8, 2006, p. 94, sidebar
  15. ^ Tim Ewbank, Stafford Hildred Rod Stewart: The New Biography Page 287, Citadel Press, 2005 ISBN 0806526440 Accessed via Google Books September 2, 2008
  16. ^ What's New at Shapiro Bernstein"Jazz vocalist, Deborah Lippmann recorded an incredibly lush recording of A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square..." from shapirobernstein.com Accessed December 15, 2007
  17. ^ New from the Lippman Collection By Erin - Thursday, September 27th, 2007 at 12:12pm. Make her Up Beauty Blog Accessed December 15, 2007
  18. ^ Just Walk Away Renee Nail Colour from Beauty & Main blog Accessed December 15, 2007
  19. ^ The Lippman Collection index
  20. ^ [1]http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/discography/index.jsp?pid=5942&aid=1138494
  21. ^ Nathan Brackett, Christian Hoard The New Rolling Stone Album Guide: Completely Revised and Updated 4th Edition Page 440, Simon and Schuster, 2004 ISBN 0743201698 Accessed via Google Books September 2, 2008
  22. ^ [2]http://www.answers.com/topic/at-least-we-got-shoes
  23. ^ Crenshaw, Marshall. ""I've Suffered For My Art...Now It's Your Turn"". The Marshall Crenshaw Page. http://www.marshallcrenshaw.com/albumsuffered.html#10. Retrieved 2008-11-25.  
  24. ^ Everything about Billy Bragg
  25. ^ Little Blue World News: Tori dedicates Australian concert to Schapelle Corby Page 5 2005 Accessed via Google Cache October 4, 2008
  26. ^ [3]http://www.amazon.com/Touch-Blue-David-Cassidy/dp/B0000DG5N5
  27. ^ [4]http://www.rhapsody.com/gjorgi/nowandforever
  28. ^ [5]http://mog.com/themaltesebippy/blog_post/144132

External links

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