This past week the fragile songwriter of Walk Away Renee, Michael Brown died. His group, The Left Banke, recorded it. I read Brown's most famous piece was based on the unrequited love he had at the time he wrote the lyrics. That love was Renee, the girlfriend of The Left Banke's bassist. The day the song was recorded, Renee was in the studio and Brown's hands shook so much he had to record his harpsichord pairing later and alone. The song is about teenage heartbreak so piquant, it can still make me cry.
Michael Brown's talent couldn't survive the music industry but from all accounts he was a gifted and sensitive songwriter - there are many unreleased songs that we won't hear now. The year "Renee" was launched was star-blessed for music but The Left Banke's baroque pop song was so different for the times with its soaring refrains and melting melancholy . What is even more remarkable is that Brown was only 16 when he wrote Walk Away Renee. It takes major heartbreak to understand first love's hardest lesson and he poignantly captured our ardent wish to relive it, only to discover that the things on love's stage are really rather plain and ordinary. Until Walk Away Renee's last strain, it hurts so good. Or maybe I don't really know what he's talking about.
The lot we used to pass by every day
You won't see me follow you back home
The empty sidewalks on my block are not the same
You're not to blame