Kodak’s Centennial Song

Rochester wouldn’t be Rochester without Kodak, and Kodak wouldn’t be Kodak without George Eastman. Today, July 12, marks his birthday — the closest thing we have to our own little regional holiday.

Yesterday, at Goodwill, I stumbled across a vinyl album in such pristine condition I don’t think it had ever been played. It turned out to be an album produced by Kodak in 1979 to mark their Centennial celebration in 1980.

The first side of the album contains songs written or recorded for Kodak commercials, including Paul Anka’s “Times of Your Life.”

The second side contains songs written by a group called Up With People — including a song called “Part of the Picture,” written about George, Kodak, and all the people who made it possible.

I’m a huge fan of this sort of Rochester ephemera, and trying to preserve a little slice of it. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I found it on the day before George Eastman’s birthday. I’ve digitized Part of the Picture so you can listen, too.

Happy birthday, George.

In that old brick building on State Street
Way back in 1880
A young man had a picture in his mind
As he simplified the mystery
He put his finger on the button of history
So everybody could capture a moment of time

He made everyone part of the picture
Part of the scene
With a hundred-year start on tomorrow
Now everyone’s part of it
That’s the heart of it
He put everyone in the picture
Made us all part of the dream

Now he had no way of knowing
That his dream would keep on growing
Colorado, Carolina, Texas, and Tennessee
It’s chemicals and it’s healing
It’s the chemistry of feelings
Our lives are touched by the Kodak family

You’ve made everyone part of the picture
Part of the scene
You’ve got a hundred-year start on tomorrow
And everyone’s part of it
That’s the heart of it
You’ve put everyone in the picture
Made us all part of the dream

Take out your favorite photos
And see them again and again
It’s not just an old album
It’s more like a trusty old friend

You can show off the babies’ faces
And your slides of far-off places
And grandma going strong at eighty-two
In those memories we glory
As you help us tell our story
And today you bring tomorrow into view

You’ve made everyone part of the picture
Part of the scene
You’ve got a hundred-year start on tomorrow
And everyone’s part of it
That’s the heart of it
You’ve put everyone in the picture
Made us all part of the dream