Thursday, June 11, 2015

"Walk Away Renee"

I was reminded of this song when trawling through a selection of music performed by Linda Ronstadt, and it's taken me off on a tangent. So much so that my Ronstadt post will have to wait.

For as long as I can remember, I have been utterly convinced that nobody, no, not even the original writer, has recorded "Walk Away Renee" completely correctly. Every version I've heard falls short in some small but important way that fails to do justice to what I think is a monumental piece of music.

The original recording by the Left Banke, including the 16 year-old writer, is just a little too jaunty, and the lead vocal isn't up to the task of conveying the sheer emptiness and desolation the song requires.

The Four Tops were better in that they had the vocal part down but again, the arrangement was just too upbeat. Southside Johnny, Herman's Hermits, Cyndi Lauper, Linda Ronstadt, Eric Carmen and a whole host of others have recorded versions of this, none of which really encompasses what the song is about. Ronstadt's probably comes closest of all these, and there's a good version by - wait for it - John Bon Jovi.

But my favourite version is by a Northern Irish group called The Adventures, who came and went in the mid-1980s. Their take on "Renee" was on a 4-track EP given away with the weekly Record Mirror magazine, and I played it to death within a year. Happily, someone else out there kept their copy in better condition. There's also a version The Adventures did for a BBC Peel session, but it's the muffled, slightly echoey arrangement on the EP that seems to work best.

I can't think of any other song where I've been left unsatisfied by the interpretations of even the writers. I'm reminded of Warren Zevon's "Hasten Down the Wind" which, while good, is not nearly as heartbreaking as Linda Ronstadt's version, but a cover version surpassing the original is not as rare in my experience!

1 comment:

abo-bder said...
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