Puneet Varma (Editor)

Walk Away Renée

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Released  July 1966
Length  2:43
Genre  Baroque pop
Label  Smash
B-side  "I Haven't Got the Nerve"
Writer(s)  Michael Brown, Bob Calilli, Tony Sansone

"Walk Away Renée" is a song written by Michael Brown, Bob Calilli, and Tony Sansone for the band the Left Banke, released as a single in July 1966. Steve Martin Caro is featured on lead vocals. After its initial release, it spent 13 weeks on the US charts, with a top spot of number 5.

Contents

The song features a flute solo played during the instrumental bridge of the middle portion of the song. 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. The arrangement also includes a lush string orchestration, a jangling harpsichord part, and a descending chromatic bass melody. Its production was credited to World United Productions, Inc., but the session was produced by Brown's father, jazz and classical violinist Harry Lookofsky, who also led the string players.

Rolling Stone placed "Walk Away Renée" at number 220 in the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The song returned to nationwide charts with cover versions by The Four Tops (1967) and Rick Price (1993).

Background

The song is one of a number Brown wrote about Renée Fladen-Kamm, the 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 was described as a free-spirited and tall blonde. The song was written one month after Brown met her. "Walk Away Renee" was one of a series of love songs the infatuated Brown wrote after meeting his newfound muse. 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.

Brown says of his unrequited love for Renée:

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

However, co-author Tony Sansone has given a different version of the origin of the song and contends that he is the primary author. Sansone has stated in interviews that he wrote the lyrics for the song, and that he randomly chose the name Renee because the Beatles used the name Michelle in their hit song of the same name, and so he did likewise, choosing the French name Renee as the female object for the song.

Four Tops cover

The Four Tops' recording of the song was featured on their 1967 album Reach Out and is the second most successful cover version of the song, having reached #15 on the soul singles chart, #14 on the Billboard Hot 100, and charting higher than The Left Banke in Canada at #2 on the RPM Magazine charts. Overseas, it peaked at #3 on the UK Singles Chart and number 5 in the Irish Singles Chart in January 1968, The Andantes provided backing vocals on this Motown release.

Rick Price version

In May 1993, "Walk Away Renée" was released by Australian singer songwriter Rick Price as the fifth and single from his debut studio album Heaven Knows. The song peaked at No. 21 in Australia.

Other cover versions

Linda Ronstadt and Ann Savoy recorded the song on their 2006 album Adieu False Heart. The New York Times' reviewer Jon Pareles stated of their 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 ”

References

Walk Away Renée Wikipedia