Song 230: Penny and the Quarters, “You and Me” (1970)Posted: August 18, 2013
Not much was known about this song until recently, which is a rare occurrence in the digital age. The recordings that made up Numero Group’s 2007 compilation Eccentric Soul: The Prix Label were found at a garage sale. They were given to the archival label soon after.
In 2010, “You and Me” played a prominent role in the film Blue Valentine. The film’s success made the song very popular, which caused fans—including Numero co-founder Ken Shipley, who wanted to give the group their royalties—to seek them out. It was known that the song was recorded by a group called Penny and the Quarters in 1970, in Columbus, Ohio. But the people behind it seemed to be gone forever.
That is, until a record collector happened to run into Penny in Europe. Penny then sat down for an interview with the since-folded alt-weekly The Other Paper in which she talked about the song’s origins. Sadly, that interview is now lost (nothing in this story is easy!), but this Yahoo! recap retains the gist: Nannie “Penny” Sharpe, just out of high school, made the song with her siblings as a demo, though she didn’t realize at the time that it was being recorded. According to Shipley, Sharpe and others have since made quite a bit of money off the song.
I love that story, and I love that it centers around a beautiful ballad that sounds like a hidden gem. “You and Me” is quiet and unassuming, but extremely powerful. I first heard the track on a promo copy of the Numero compilation, and it completely stopped me in my tracks. Sharpe sings simply and without affectation, and she sounds absolutely sure that this love is for real. It’s stunning in its clarity, and it stands as another reminder that if the song is great, you don’t need much else.