You and Me - Penny and the Quarters
Often when you listen to a track, you can date it to at least within five years or so by the style, the nature of the recording, the emphasis of the vocals and so on. So when I was first was played this around a year ago, I knew it was somewhere between about 1957 and 1962.
And this was part of its charm, a lost soul classic, an unknown group, a haunting but simple melody, and a forthright but plaintively yearning vocal that hooks you from the first "Hey Heyee Heyee" and then follows up with the equally affecting " my (pronounced ma), my my my my my my my".
The song oozes innocence and that feeling of early soul in the late fifties. So it is something of a surprise when it turned out to have been recorded in 1970! The track was recorded by one Nannie Coulter and her brothers as a demo while they were auditioning and doing backing vocals for a local record company. The song was penned by a resident songwriter for the label, one Jay Robinson who also sings backup and plays guitar, as a kind of singing annunciation lesson for Nannie, and then never used. Interestingly, Jay named the one track group after the change he had in his pocket - a penny and a quarter. Which is why it sounds so old and raw. It's a demo!
In 2006, 36 years later, the cassette was bought as part of a job lot from the estate one of the label's owners by a record archive company who released it the following year on a rare soul compilation album.
Although I've always thought of Ryan Gosling as a kind of brooding method-actor type, he showed that he was worthy of the Brando-esque tradition by having the good taste to pick it out and put it forward as "their song" for the beleaguered couple in the movie "Blue Valentine".
What really makes it is Nannie's soulful "heys" and "wows" and finally "you's" of the backing chorus of "you and me"s. Strong, brave, but tinged with latent tragedy. Exactly how she would be if she was giving her all, trying to pitch it just right, singing for a career break that never came.
But unlike the tragic ending of the film, the record archive company, being honourable souls, actively sought out the group to pay them their revenues and finally found Nannie in 2011. A happy ending then, and not bad for just one take.