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Renee Kept Walking


Rickie Lee Jones sang a jazzy cover of “Walk Away Renee” on her 1983 EP “The Girl at Her Volcano.” But Michael Brown wrote the song. He recorded it in the 1960s with The Left Banke. I purchased their single (on vinyl, of course) as kid, and practically wore out the grooves listening to it. That’s how much I liked the record. Still do.

“Walk Away Renee” is unique for many reasons. The first line begins with “And,” which plops the listener into the middle of the ongoing monologue in the songwriter’s head. Interestingly, there are merely two lines of lyrics before the chorus. Halfway through the lyrics, Brown mentions the tears he’s “forced to cry” and the pain he “chose to hide.” putting these actions at odds with each other. Later, Brown says he is haunted by his name and Renee’s name “inside a heart, upon a wall,” even though “they’re so small.” How often that happens in real life: we are deeply troubled by something that seems insignificant to others.

Guitars, drums and a bass keep the beat through “Walk Away Renee.” A harpsichord and lush strings weave a captivating spell. Then there is the bridge, which is played not sung — it’s a dreamy flute solo. For all of the above reasons, I think “Walk Away Renee” is a great song.

To honor songwriter Michael Brown, who passed away recently, I’m reblogging my 2013 post about transistor radios and “Walk Away Renee.” The post links to The Left Banke’s live performance of the song on TV.


And here, above, is a link to Rickie Lee Jones’ lovely interpretation of the song. I hope you enjoy that too.