Music Throwback Saturday: Walk Away Renée

Linda Ronstadt and Ann Savoy recorded Walk Away Renée for their 2006 album Adieu False Heart.

LeftBankeThere really WAS a Renée. From Wikipedia: The song Walk Away Renée was “written by the group’s then 16-year-old keyboard player Michael Brown (real name Michael Lookofsky), Tony Sansone and Bob Calilli… 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.”

The Left Banke version, which got up to #5 in the US in 1966, was their biggest hit. Pretty Ballerina, also about Renée, went to #15 US in early 1967.

Moreover, as Dustbury noted:

“I knew that Michael Brown’s unrequited love was a real person… but it never occurred to me that he was also thinking of a real sign that points one way.

“It’s at the intersection of Falmouth Street and Hampton Avenue in Brooklyn,” part of New York City.

The Four Tops recorded a version for their 1967 album Reach Out. The single “reached #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #3 on the UK Singles Chart in 1968.” Of course, they had several other hits.

For you US television fans, a bit of Hill Street Blues trivia. The cop Bobby Hill (Michael Warren) mentions loving the song Walk Away Renée, which he said came out in 1968. Obviously, as a kid, he was listening to a soul station and did not hear the Left Banke version in 1966, only the Four Tops version two years later.

I also own the version by Linda Ronstadt and Ann Savoy for their 2006 album Adieu False Heart, Linda’s last album of new material. “Their spare reading of the [song] brings the lyric’s ache into full relief.”

LISTEN to Walk Away Renée by
The Left Banke
The Four Tops
Linda Ronstadt & Ann Savoy

Sadly, Michael Brown, the Left Banke’s brilliant baroque-pop leader, died at the age of 65, back in March 2015.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

4 thoughts on “Music Throwback Saturday: Walk Away Renée”

  1. The Banke, I note, is still in business:

    Michael Brown is long gone, of course, but two of the original Bankesters, Tom Finn and George Cameron, along with longtime associate Charly Cazalet, who played on the 1978 Strangers on a Train album, make this much more than just some old guys trading on a name. New vocalist Mike Fornatale, who sounds a lot like Steve [Martin-Caro], secured his connection to the Banke that was by reconstructing the original string charts. By hand, mind you.

    And the new Banke has done something the old one never, ever did: play “Desiree” live.

  2. I saw The Left Banke perform Desiree at the Fillmore East in 1967 when they opened up for Frank Zappa and at Mothers. It wasn’t anything like the record but the vocals where good.

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