"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"), English lyrics 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, as he originally wrote the French song "Quand un Amour Renaît" for Sylvie Vartan, and his melody is the same on both records. The song was also a chart hit for the Motown group the Four Tops in 1968.
The song features a flute solo 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. The arrangement also includes a lush string orchestration, a memorable harpsichord part, and a descending chromatic bass melody which led critics to refer to the group's sound as Baroque pop, "Bach-Rock" or Baroque n Roll.
Rolling Stone placed the song at number 220 in the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. After its initial release, it spent 13 weeks on the charts with a top spot at #5. It has been widely recorded by singers in a wide range of genres and styles, often with great success. For example, Linda Ronstadt and Ann Savoy recently recorded the song on their 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 ”
The real Renée 
The song is one of a number Brown wrote about Renée 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 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:
- "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"
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."
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
Cultural references 
- Tom Scholz of the arena rock band Boston has credited the "heart-tugging mood" of "Walk Away Renee" as the main inspiration behind his band's signature hit "More Than a Feeling".
- The title of Storm Thorgerson's 1978 book The Work of Hipgnosis: 'Walk Away René' alludes to The Left Banke song.
- Filmmaker Warren Sonbert used the song in his 1966 7-minute film Hall of Mirrors, as accompaniment to a section of the film featuring art critic René Ricard.
- The Belle and Sebastian song "Piazza New York Catcher" contains the line "You'd settle for an epitaph like 'Walk Away, Renee'." and the introduction of the band's song "The Model" uses a similar arrangement to the opening of "Walk Away Renee".
- Singer Gwen Stefani's middle name is Renée and was given to her as a result of The Four Tops' cover of this song.
- Singer Rod Stewart and model Rachel Hunter named their daughter born in 1992 Renee because "Walk Away Renee" is one of Stewart's favorite songs.
- Celebrity manicurist and Jazz recording artist, Deborah Lippman 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 Renee".
Notable recordings 
- The Four Tops' recording of the song was featured on their 1967 album Reach Out and is arguably the most famous cover version of the song, having reached #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #3 on the UK Singles Chart in 1968. They also recorded an Italian language version, L'arcobaleno (The rainbow).
- 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.
- The female Japanese pop duo Pink Lady included a version of "Walk Away Renee" on their Kiss in the Dark album in 1979.
- John O'Banion recorded the song on his 1st EP John O'Banion 1981.
- Rickie Lee Jones recorded the song on her 1985 EP Girl at Her Volcano.
- Southside Johnny recorded the song on his 1986 album At Least We Got Shoes. As a single, it reached #98 on the Billboard Hot 100.
- Herbs recorded 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 version with slightly altered lyrics on his 2001 album I've Suffered For My Art...Now It's Your Turn.
- Billy Bragg has recorded the song, but with different lyrics.
- Lotion recorded 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 Renée. Her version appeared on the album, Songs From Ally McBeal. She later recorded an introspective version with just her piano on her 2012 album, 'Solo.
- 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.
- Les Fradkin has a version on his 2006 release- Goin' Back.
- David Cassidy recorded the song on his 2003 album Touch of Blue.
- The Ronstadt-Savoy version was used as a closing song for NBC's Crossing Jordan in January 2007.
- GJORGI recorded the song on his second EP Now And Forever in 2008. This version was produced by Eran Phillips and one of the song's co-writers, Tony Sansone, including an extra verse which was written by Sansone in 1975 for Frankie Valli.
- Eric Carmen included a version of the song on his 2000 album I Was Born to Love You.
- Rick Price recorded "Walk Away Renée" on his 1992 album Heaven Knows. His version of the song was also released as a single and in Australia it peaked at #21. The song was also included on his 2008 album Revisited.
- Alan Merrill recorded the song on his Left Banke tribute EP "Rive Gauche" in 2007.
- Jonah Matranga recorded the song on his self-released cassette album Songs I Hope My Mom Will Like in 1994.
- The song is best known in Iceland under the title Þó líði ár og öld ('Though years and ages pass'), originally recorded by Björgvin Halldórsson in 1969, lyrics by Kristmann Vilhjálmsson (pen name of Hrafn Gunnlaugsson) with a slightly different premise, and no mention of anyone with the name Renée.
- Eric Garrison recorded the song on his 1998 album Looking for Egypt.
- ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 37 – The Rubberization of Soul: The great pop music renaissance. [Part 3] : UNT Digital Library" (audio). Pop Chronicles. Digital.library.unt.edu. Retrieved 2011-04-29.
- ^ "California Dreamin', Present at the Creation". NPR. Retrieved 2011-04-29.
- ^ Roger Bourland (July 15, 2006). The Left Banke: Walk Away Renee. rogerbourland.com
- ^ I'VE GOT SOMETHING ON MY MIND: LEFT BANKE. urbanhonking.com (June 6, 2004). Accessed may 6, 2008
- ^ The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time : Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2013-01-16.
- ^ Walk Away Renee. Rolling Stone (December 9, 2004)
- ^ NEW YORK TIMES Review by Jon Pareles posted on Ann Savoy's Official Website
- ^ a b Walk Away Renee from leftbanke.nu
- ^ 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 0-87930-817-6
- ^ 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
- ^ Mary Devlin Medieval Music, Magical Minds 2001 Page 21 "Renée Fladen-Kamm, my longtime vocal coach and vocal director of the Sherwood Consort, is a highly trained and skilled light lyric soprano, who has performed not only early music but opera as well—most often Mozart, who was partial to the ..."
- ^ The Left Banke from ClassicBands.Com Biographies of your favourite classic rock bands. Accessed May 6, 2008
- ^ Session Notes For Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina LP From Leftbanke.nu
- ^ More Than a Feeling. Rolling Stone (December 9, 2004)
- ^ Belle and Sebastian from Dear Catastrophe Waitress lyrics to "Piazza New York Catcher". Accessed July 1, 2007
- ^ Entertainment Weekly #910, December 8, 2006, p. 94, sidebar
- ^ Tim Ewbank, Stafford Hildred Rod Stewart: The New Biography p. 287, Citadel Press, 2005 ISBN 0-8065-2644-0
- ^ 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
- ^ New from the Lippman Collection By Erin – Thursday, September 27th, 2007 at 12:12pm. Make her Up Beauty Blog Accessed December 15, 2007
- ^ Just Walk Away Renee Nail Colour from Beauty & Main blog Accessed December 15, 2007
- ^ The Lippman Collection index
- ^ Studwell, William E.; Lonergan, David (1999). The Classic Rock and Roll Reader: Rock Music from Its Beginnings to the Mid-1970s. Routledge. p. 148. ISBN 0-7890-0151-9.
- ^ Whitburn, Joel. (2008). Top Pop Singles 1955–2006. Record Research Inc. p. 317. ISBN 0-89820-172-1.
- ^ Brown, Tony.; Warwick, Neil (2004). The Complete Book of the British Charts. Omnibus Press. p. 426. ISBN 1-84449-058-0.
- ^ Discography – Frankie Valli. billboard.com
- ^ Nathan Brackett, Christian Hoard The New Rolling Stone Album Guide: Completely Revised and Updated 4th Edition p. 440, Simon and Schuster, 2004 ISBN 0-7432-0169-8
- ^ Album Review: At Least We Got Shoes. answers.com
- ^ Crenshaw, Marshall. "I've Suffered For My Art...Now It's Your Turn". The Marshall Crenshaw Page. Retrieved 2008-11-25.
- ^ Walk Away Renee (Version). billybragg.co.uk
- ^ Little Blue World News: Tori dedicates Australian concert to Schapelle Corby Page 5 2005 Accessed via Google Cache October 4, 2008
- ^ Touch of Blue: David Cassidy: Music. Amazon.com. Retrieved on 2013-01-17.
- ^ Gjorgi. Now And Forever. rhapsody.com
- ^ MUSIC SIGNPOSTS ON THE WEB'S LONELY ROAD. mog.com
External links