I went and saw Blue Valentine last weekend with my boyfriend and was absolutely blown away by the movie, but what stuck with me even more was one song that was used in the film. I looked it up when I got home and found out that it was by a group called Penny & The Quarters. Quite a fine name, if you ask me, though my boyfriend did say that if the backup singers were girls, it’d be awesome if they were called Penny & The Dimes. [Touche.] This song is called “You and Me,” and it’s an absolute swooner; it opens with a little vinyl crackling and goes into a soul/bluesy tune that immediately makes me feel as though I belong in New Orleans. Some men begin singing in the background and then, before you know it, you’re hit with one of the clearest, most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard. This so-called “Penny” really makes me believe there is “nobody baby but you and me (my, my, my, my, my, my, my, my)” when she belts out her lines.
Really, this could have just taken a spot as one of my favorite songs I’ve ever heard. Something about her voice, its clarity and power, it really strikes a chord with me.
When I found out who the song was by, I immediately ventured over to iTunes to try to buy an entire album. My heart was pacing, I couldn’t wait to hear more. As you can imagine, my heart nearly stopped when I saw that this was their only song on iTunes. I resisted freaking out, though, because sometimes older groups don’t make it onto iTunes for one reason or another (hint: The Beatles, for a long time). Upon Google searching their name, I was hit with the news. Penny & The Quarters are a lost band. Read on…
It has been estimated that when Penny & The Quarters recorded their previously unreleased demo, “You and Me,” the singers were all teenagers. Little more is known about the band other than the fact that they were invited to audition by Harmonic Sounds Studio in Columbus, Ohio, to record three of their demos sometime between 1970 and 1975. Whether they actually recorded the songs in the studio or in the home of the studio’s owner, Clem Price, is unknown. After Price died in 2006, the songs were discovered in one of his storage units and thereafter given to an archival record company called The Numero Group. In 2011 Numero Group publicized their efforts to track down members of Penny & The Quarters or their surviving family members to share the monetary profits from “You and Me.” One member of Numero Group has stated, “we have played this recording to over 100 movers and shakers from the time and no one has a clue.”
Luckily for you and me, when The Numero Group released “You and Me,” it somehow reached the ears of actor Ryan Gosling, who requested that it be used in the film Blue Valentine. Now, I can’t quite decide if I’m intrigued by this story and can let it settle, or if I’m disheartened and hoping that someday, somewhere, a member of Penny & The Quarters goes to see Blue Valentine and nearly falls out of their seat when they hear the song that they recorded back in the ‘70’s coming through the loud speakers. Selfishly, I wish for the latter to be true, but a piece of me wants to just let it be and bask in the glory of this one-hit-wonder. Though I feel a bit unsettled, I can say one thing for sure: I am incredibly thankful that this song reached MY ears, and I’m nearly positive that it will maintain a spot on my iPod for the entirety of my life. Timeless, true, and heart-wrenching. Well done, mystery band, well done.