Track of the Day: 'Walk Away, Renée' by Rickie Lee Jones

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

This reader, Bill, lauds a Left Banke song reimagined by Rickie Lee Jones:

“Walk Away, Renée” is one of those pop mysteries: A teenager writing a half-song about a crush that somehow shifts daily life into a dream and summons up all the sadness of the world. One time I heard Rickie Lee Jones apologize in concert for her extended version of a song. She explained that songs for her were like houses, “I go through the front door and just wander all around.” In this cover song, she checks out the depth of every room.  

I embarrassed to say I haven’t heard of Jones or The Left Banke, so if you haven’t either:

The Left Banke is an American baroque pop band, formed in New York City in 1965. The band often used what the music press referred to as “baroque” string arrangements, which led to their music being variously termed as “Bach-rock” or “baroque rock.” The band's vocal harmonies borrowed from contemporaries such as the Beatles, the Zombies, and other British Invasion groups.

In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine placed “Walk Away Renée” at #220 in its list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”

And Jones, according to her Wiki page, “was listed at No. 30 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Women in Rock & Roll,” and her songwriting has been characterized as “a blend of bravado and vulnerability [that] wavers on indefinable borders.” The video that YouTube recommends following her version of “Walk Away Renée“ is another cover, “Down on the Boardwalk,” if you want to follow her there.

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