Walk Away Renée

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"Walk Away Renée"
Walk Away Renée - Left Banke.jpeg
Single by The Left Banke
from the album Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina
B-side "I Haven't Got the Nerve"
Released July 1966
Genre Baroque pop[1]
Length 2:43
Label Smash
Songwriter(s) Michael Brown, Bob Calilli, Tony Sansone
Producer(s) World United Productions, Inc.
The Left Banke singles chronology
"Walk Away Renée"
"Pretty Ballerina"
Audio sample

"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. It spent 13 weeks on the US charts, with a top spot of number 5.[2]

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.[3] 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.[not verified in body]

Rolling Stone placed "Walk Away Renée" at number 220 in the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[4] The song returned to nationwide charts with cover versions by The Four Tops (1967) and Rick Price (1993).


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.[5] "Walk Away Renee" was one of a series of love songs the infatuated Brown wrote after meeting his newfound muse.[6] 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.[7]

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"[5]

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."[8]

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.[9][10]


  • 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]

Chart performance[edit]

"Walk Away Renée"
Walk Away Renée - The Four Tops.jpg
Single by The Four Tops
from the album Reach Out
B-side "Your Love is Wonderful"
Released January 1968
Label Motown
Songwriter(s) Michael Brown, Bob Calilli, Tony Sansone
The Four Tops singles chronology
"You Keep Running Away"
"Walk Away Renée"
"If I Were a Carpenter"

Four Tops cover[edit]

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,[15] having reached #15 on the soul singles chart,[16] #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,[17][18] The Andantes provided backing vocals on this Motown release in unison with the other Tops.


Chart performance[edit]

Rick Price version[edit]

"Walk Away Renée"
Walk Away Renee by Rick Price.jpg
Single by Rick Price
from the album Heaven Knows
B-side "We've Got Each Other"
Released May 1993
Format CD single
Genre Pop, soft rock
Length 4:26
Label Columbia Records
Songwriter(s) Michael Brown, Bob Calilli, Tony Sansone
Producer(s) Chris Lord-Alge
Rick Price singles chronology
"A House Divided"
"Walk Away Renée"
"Where Is the Love"

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.

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1993) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[21] 21
Germany (Official German Charts)[22] 52

Other cover versions[edit]

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

“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.”[23]

A version by Billy Bragg on Reaching to the Converted (originally released in 1986 as the B-side to "Levi Stubbs' Tears") has entirely new lyrics about the start and end of a relationship, performed as a spoken-word piece over an instrumental guitar version of the original song.[24]


  1. ^ Stanley, Bob (September 21, 2007). "Baroque and a soft place". The Guardian. 
  2. ^ "Walk Away Renee : Rolling Stone". Web.archive.org. 2004-12-09. Archived from the original on 2009-02-26. Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  3. ^ "California Dreamin', Present at the Creation". NPR. Retrieved 2011-04-29. 
  4. ^ "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time : Rolling Stone". Web.archive.org. 2004-12-09. Archived from the original on 2008-06-25. Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  5. ^ a b Walk Away Renee Archived 2007-04-27 at the Wayback Machine. from leftbanke.nu
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ 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 ..."
  8. ^ The Left Banke from ClassicBands.Com Biographies of your favourite classic rock bands. Accessed May 6, 2008
  9. ^ Tony Sansone from Youtube interview Published on September 23, 2012
  10. ^ Stagnaro, Angelo. "50 Years Ago, This Catholic Wrote a Song That Made the Beatles Jealous | Daily News". NCRegister.com. Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  11. ^ Session Notes For Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina LP Archived April 20, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. From Leftbanke.nu
  12. ^ [Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-2002]
  13. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 Singles, November 5, 1966". Retrieved 2018-01-08. 
  14. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1966/Top 100 Songs of 1966". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  15. ^ 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. 
  16. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 212. 
  17. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel. (2008). Top Pop Singles 1955–2006. Record Research Inc. p. 317. ISBN 0-89820-172-1. 
  18. ^ a b Brown, Tony.; Warwick, Neil (2004). The Complete Book of the British Charts. Omnibus Press. p. 426. ISBN 1-84449-058-0. 
  19. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". www.collectionscanada.gc.ca. 
  20. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1999). Pop Annual. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. ISBN 0-89820-142-X. 
  21. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Rick Price – Walk Away Renée". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  22. ^ "Musicline.de – Rick Price Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  23. ^ New York Times by Jon Pareles posted on Ann Savoy's Official Website
  24. ^ Connelly, Jim (December 22, 2014). "Billy Bragg – "Walk Away Renee (Version)"". Certain Songs. 

External links[edit]