Michael Brown, RIP

We’ve lost a gifted but underappreciated songwriter. His name is one you may not recognize: Michael Brown:

Michael Brown, a songwriter and keyboardist for the “baroque rock” band the Left Banke who co-wrote its 1966 pop hit “Walk Away Renee,” died March 19 at his home in Englewood, N.J. He was 65.

The cause was a heart ailment, a family spokeswoman said.

Mr. Brown was born Michael Lookofsky and grew up in Brooklyn. He was a classically trained keyboardist, and his father ran a New York music studio where the Left Banke recorded.

Brown will be remembered for “Walk Away Renee,” a tearful and lovely song about a couple breaking up. But in my opinion, Brown’s most moving and magical creation was “Pretty Ballerina.” For me, this wistful, haunting melody still defines the late 60s. I can still hear it playing on the radio of my father’s 1968 Buick Skylark. It’s a sweltering summer afternoon, and I can see the girls at my high school I was too shy to approach smiling back at me.

Here’s to you, Michael. Thanks for the memories.

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4 thoughts on “Michael Brown, RIP”

  1. Very sad to read this. I recall the song and loved it when I was younger, might even have it on vinyl somewhere. Losing songwriters of this calibre is sad for many reasons, but also because so few real songwriters are coming up through the ranks. I have worked with songwriters for decades and know what makes a good song. This was a good song, there was a story. So important. RIP Michael Brown.

    Like

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