Numero Group: By The Numbers


Penny, the Quarters, and where their share of the Blue Valentine quarters are
January 18, 2011, 12:08 pm
Filed under: Prix | Tags: , , ,

Four years ago when we were putting the finishing touches on Eccentric Soul: The Prix Label, we had a handful of tough choices to make about the unreleased demos from the Harmonic Sounds/Prix archive. As we’ve told you before, a box of tapes and acetates turned up at a yard sale in Columbus a few years before we started the project, finding their way to Numero staffer Dante Carfagna, who used the contents of that box to spark the conversation on the Prix label. We chose a few heart-wrenching Eddie Ray demos, Ray’s “Wait A Minute,” a weird studio jam, unreleased cuts by Joe King and Marion Black, and finally “You And Me,” a sparely arranged demo by a group referred to only as Penny & the Quarters.

Rob Sevier and Dante hit Columbus hard that Winter, spending nearly two weeks interviewing as many people involved in Harmonic Sounds and Prix as they could find. With them at all times was a CD of Prix demos, including “You And Me.” This song was played for every single person we interviewed, and not a single one of them could match the voices on that tape to a group in Columbus.

With our paperwork in order from surviving Prix-label co-owner George Beter, we moved forward with the project hoping that the group would be coaxed out by local press on the record. The Dispatch and Alive did small stories on our 15th record, but neither mentioned Penny & the Quarters. Eccentric Soul: The Prix Label ended up as one of the poorest selling titles in the series, the group remained a mystery.

Time passed and the song became a line item on royalty reports, generating literally pennies for George Beter. Two years after the record was released we began a fruitful relationship with the PR firm Biz 3, who also worked with Dead Man’s Bones, the musical project of actor Ryan Gosling. Music from Biz 3 filtered through to Gosling, and against all odds, Penny & the Quarters got stuck in his craw. So much so that “You And Me” ended up appearing in director Derek Cianfrance’s 2010 film Blue Valentine, not just as background sound, but as the very song that ties the movie’s two principle characters to each other.

Via The London Times:

…[the song]was given by Ryan to the director Derek Cianfrance when he was asked for a tune that would represent his relationship with Michelle Williams in the movie. Derek – who has spent 13 years trying to make the film – said he envisaged the pair having a song and he told Ryan to keep it away from Michelle. He said: “I said that’s great. Just keep it from Michelle. Don’t play it to anyone.”

The movie dives directly toward NC-17 just after the clip above, but that’s hardly mattering to the millions of people who have by now seen the film. “You and Me” has gotten stuck in the world’s craw, generating not a ton of money for Numero or George Beter, but enough so that we’ve re-opened its cold case in the hopes of sharing the revenue with Penny, the Quarters, or their decedents. Others have speculated that some kind of infringement of rights has taken place, but rest assured that we have worked in concert with the Prix label owner since the onset of this project, and he is just as interested in solving the Penny & the Quarters mystery and remunerating the artists as we are.




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