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Gone, Baby, Gone

Transistor radio from the website RadioMuseum.org

Transistor radio from the website RadioMuseum.org

All I wanted was a transistor radio. This was before Sony Walkmans and iPods. To my delight, my parents bought me one in taxicab yellow, with a black carrying string. I’d swing it while I walked, exuding a never-care attitude. Black dials indicated one could adjust the volume and tuning for maximum clarity. This was an illusion, because all stations sounded tinny on my transistor radio — AM, FM, it didn’t matter.

My radio often picked up the strains of “Walk Away Renee.” Chicago stations played the song in heavy rotation. The popular hit by The Left Banke reached number 5 on the U.S. pop charts in 1966.

“Walk Away Renee” was co-written by 16-year-old keyboard player Michael (Lookofsky) Brown, who had a crush on a girl named Renee. But it wasn’t to be, because Renee was already the bass player’s girlfriend. Unrequited love is a great topic for a song, isn’t it? Perhaps because disappointment in love is universal.

I bought the 45 RPM record of “Walk Away Renee,” and played it over and over on the cheap blue and white plastic record player in our rec room. The plaintive singing juxtaposed with the sincere flute solo kept me hooked. The song featured such lush string arrangements it was labeled “Baroque pop.”

The Four Tops and Vonda Shepard have recorded fine cover versions of the song. I still prefer the original though. In my book, “Walk Away Renee” is one of the best songs ever written about heartache. I can relate to it, and I bet a lot of other folks can too.

Photo of 45 RPM record "Walk Away Renee" from Flickr and by David W. Cook

Photo of 45 RPM record “Walk Away Renee” from Flickr by David W. Cook

Photo of The Left Banke record cover from MusicStack.com

Photo of The Left Banke record cover from MusicStack.com

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Walk Away Renee

Written by Bob Calilli, Michael Lookofsky, Tony Sansone

And when I see the sign that points one way

The lot we used to pass by every day

(Chorus)

Just walk away, Renee

You won’t see me follow you back home

The empty sidewalks on my block are not the same

You’re not to blame

From deep inside the tears that I’m forced to cry

From deep inside the pain that I chose to hide

Just walk away, Renee

You won’t see me follow you back home

Now, as the rain beats down upon my weary eyes

For me, it cries

Just walk away, Renee

You won’t see me follow you back home

Now, as the rain beats down upon my weary eyes

For me, it cries

Your name and mine inside a heart upon a wall

Still finds a way to haunt me though they’re so small

Just walk away, Renee

You won’t see me follow you back home

The empty sidewalks on my block are not the same

You’re not to blame

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