…you’re not to blame

She was a real girl.  And her name really was Renée.  Described as a tall and free-spirited blonde, Renée Fladen-Kamm was the girlfriend of Left Banke bassist Tom Finn and the object of unrequited affection for the group’s 16-year-old keyboard player, Michael Brown (nee Michael Lookofsky).

A “baroque pop” band, formed in New York in 1965, The Left Banke borrowed its harmony ideas from (then near ubiquitous) British Invasion groups and greatly benefited by access to a recording studio run by Brown’s father, a popular session violinist who also served as the group’s manager, producer and publisher.

Released in 1966 “Walk Away Renée” spent 13 weeks on the Billboard charts, peaking at Number 5.  By far The Left Banke’s biggest hit, it was actually recorded while Fladen-Kamm looked on. “My hands were shaking when I tried to play,” Brown later recalled, “she was right there in the control room. There was no way I could do it with her around, so I came back and did it later…I was just sort of mythologically in love, if you know what I mean, without having evidence in fact or in deed (but) I was as close as anybody could be to the real thing”

Clearly Fladen-Kamm radiated some serious pheromones, because the infatuated teen actually wrote a series of love songs with her in mind, including the band’s second hit “Pretty Ballerina” followed by “She May Call You Up Tonight.” As for the real Renée, she and the bassist soon broke it off and after decades of obscurity, she was eventually identified as a classical singer and vocal teacher living in the Bay Area.

“Walk Away Renée” would also become a big hit for the Four Tops in 1968, reaching Number 13 on the Billboard charts and Number 3 on the UK Singles Chart, and has since been performed by countless artists as varied as: Frankie Vallie, the Cowsills, Rickie Lee Jones, Southside Johnny, Billy Bragg, Tori Amos, David Cassidy, Eric Carmen, Bon Jovi and Linda Ronstadt.  Today’s selection is a version recorded in 1998 by California based singer/songwriter, Vonda Shepard.

LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Wednesday 12 April

 Walk Away Renée

 And when I see the sign that points one way

The lot we used to pass by every day

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 I’m forced to cry

From deep inside the pain 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

Your name and mine inside a heart upon a wall

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

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

The empty sidewalks on my block are not the same

You’re not to blame

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