Jackson Browne was sixteen when he wrote “These Days,” a contemplative song about loss and regret. If there’s another song written by a teenager with such emotional depth, I’ve yet to hear it.
Then, today I learned about “Walk Away Renee.” My friend Paul Jeannotte sent me a note about it. The song had crossed his mind, which led him to research its origins, which prompted him to email me. Because that’s what friends do.
Originally written and recorded by the New York pop band the Left Banke in 1966, it since has been covered by a slew of artists, including the Four Tops, Marshall Crenshaw, Jimmy LaFave and Linda Rondstandt. The song was written by Left Banke keyboardist Michael Brown. The object of his heartache and infatuation in the song is Renee Fladen-Kamm — the girlfriend of Brown’s bandmate, Tom Finn.
With a string section and elements of baroque pop, “Walk Away Renee” has a melody that will haunt you in your sleep. Brown wrote it when he was sixteen.