I don't think I need a spoiler alert but if you haven't seen the movie Blue Valentine yet, and you're the type of person who doesn't want to know anything about a movie before they see it, then read no further.
Did I give you enough warning? I hope so...
In the movie Blue Valentine, early in their relationship, Ryan Gosling serenades Michelle Williams with an old record. He tells her the song, "You and Me," should be "their" song since it is so obscure no one else will have it as their song. (By the way, Gosling, who plays a mean ukulele throughout the movie, is an accomplished jazz guitarist. He is also a member of the band Dead Man's Bones. Years ago, he was a member of The Mickey Mouse Club cast for two years, and lived with co-star Justin Timberlake's family.)
Here's the story behind the song: Presumably teenagers at the time, Penny & The Quarters auditioned at Harmonic Sounds Studio in Columbus, Ohio, recording three demo songs in all. The group consisted of a female lead with three or four male backup singers and an accompanying guitarist. (The song's composers are also not known.)
The song was recorded sometime between 1970 and 1975 at either Harmonic Sounds Studio or at the home of studio co-owner Clem Price. The doo-wop-style tune "You and Me" was never released and Penny and the Quarters disappeared soon after the audition.
Relegated to storage, the songs were discovered after Price's death in 2006 when a collection of tapes and acetate records was purchased at his estate sale. The song was discovered in a box entitled "Penny and the Quarters" - the only clue to who sang it.
After a Columbus, Ohio musicologist came into possession of the recordings the music ended up the property of Numero Group, a Chicago music publisher specializing in obscure and forgotten blues and soul music.
"You And Me" was released by Numero Group and was later heard by actor Ryan Gosling, who recommended it to Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance as the song meant to bring the two lead characters together in the movie.
Numero Group announced in 2011 that they were actively seeking members of Penny & The Quarters, the composer or their surviving relatives in order to share the growing record royalties from "You And Me." Ken Shipley of Numero Group told reporters, "we have played this recording to over 100 movers and shakers from the time and no one has a clue."
There have been theories, including one early in February 2011 in the Columbus Dispatch that "Penny" was the late- Barbara S. McCarroll, a former school teacher. It is also theorized that the song's writer is Columbus musician Jay Robinson.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, reporter Jeffrey Sheban "...was able to reach McCarroll's son and three surviving sisters, all of whom listened to the song for the first time yesterday. They aren't positive that she was the lead singer - she never specifically mentioned the recording session or said she was Penny - but they were moved by the similarities.
'"I hear a likeness, but, truthfully, it would be very hard to tell," said sister Frances Woods, 61. "But it sounds like something she would do, definitely."'
Barbara McCarroll died Dec. 27 after battling cancer. She died, unaware of the mystery over the identity of Penny and The Quarters.
Do you know who Penny & The Quarters are? I'm hoping that among the thousands of people who visit this site every day someone may be aware of the true identity of the group's members. As I said, Numero says they're willing to share the royalties.
Do you know?