|Number 82 |
Walk Away Renee
The Left Banke
September 24th, 1966
"It's the ultimate love song," says Michael Brown, former leader of the Left Banke, a New York-based quintet that created inspired, classically tinged pop for a brief time in the mid-sixties. He's speaking of "Walk Away Renee," an exquisite ode to love and longing that has subsequently been recorded by artists as diverse as the Four Tops, Southside Johnny, and Rickie Lee Jones.
Brown was only sixteen when he wrote "Walk Away Renee." His father, Harry Lookofsky, owned World United, a New York recording studio. It was there that Brown met four young musicians and formed the Left Banke.
"Walk Away Renee" was inspired by Renee Fladen, a young woman who had befriended the band. "It's not a love song about possession," Brown says. "It's about loving someone enough to set them free." Fladen was present when Brown tried to record his harpsichord part. "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."
According to Brown, the song - which took about eight weeks to write and record - was rejected by ten major labels before Charlie Fach of Smash Records took it on. The company believed in "Walk Away Renee" more than Brown, who preferred "Pretty Ballerina," the band's next single. "The truth of the matter," says Brown, "is that I cheered "Walk Away Renee" up the charts so that "Pretty Ballerina" would have a better chance." Still, he thinks he knows why the former song has made such a lasting impression. "There's a certain purity to "Walk Away Renee," he says, "and its purity comes from the idea that a dream lives, even if it's just as a fantasy."
Songwriter: Michael Brown, B. Calliili and T Sansone
Thanks to Nicholas Morris for sending this in.