Pretty Ballerina

The Left Banke

Song Review by Matthew Greenwald

One of the most surprising and revolutionary pair of singles to emerge in 1966 were the Left Banke's "Walk Away Renee" and this follow-up, "Pretty Ballerina." Combining Beatlesque pop with a Baroque chamber arrangement, the song was an artful and beautiful welding of styles, and kept right in the flow of the ever-growing progressive pop scene of the period. The lyrics are a brilliant and melancholy meditation of the obsession and overflowing emotions of love. Although written in a style that was easy for a teenager to relate to, the words span any age gap. In fact, like certain Beatles or Brian Wilson songs such as "Here, There and Everywhere" and "God Only Knows," it has aged very, very well, and is one of the few pop songs from the period that can be called an "evergreen." The song charted at number 15 in early 1967, and would probably have done better, except for the fact that during this period the pop singles competition was especially rich and competitive. Such diverse and brilliant singles as "Strawberry Fields"/"Penny Lane," "I'm a Man," "Good Vibrations," "Let's Spend the Night Together," and "Dedicated to the One I Love," among several others, were all in the charts simultaneously at this time. The songwriter, 18-year-old Michael Brown, had the honor of performing it on Leonard Bernstein's landmark television special Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
There's Gonna Be a Storm: The Complete Recordings 1966-69 1992 Mercury 2:35