A Young Prince
Smile for a Saturday
We all come from somewhere. And no matter where we end up going, we are rooted and shaped by where we have been.
It might be difficult for those raised as “digital natives” today to imagine, but long before the current ubiquity of smartphone pictures, videos, and social media posts, seeing and hearing what past versions of people looked and sounded like was a relative rarity.
To be sure, some people were born into families of privilege and fame and thus had their faces and movements captured in photographs and movies. But the vast majority of us, even those who ended up leading lives in the spotlight, often had very little documentation about life's early years.
That’s why digging into the archives of an old photo album — or even more special, a trove of home movies — can be especially thrilling.
This doesn’t hold true only for personal archives. When I was coming up in television news, we shot on film, as in the real deal, measured by the foot and stored by the reel. Later on, that shifted to video tape, which was at the onset incredibly expensive. Especially at local stations, tapes were erased and reused, and old film took up too much space in storage and was often discarded. As a result, countless treasures have been lost forever. Many more remain there, on dusty shelves, waiting to be discovered.
All of this is pretext for a remarkable story we are sharing for today’s Smile for a Saturday. It is courtesy of WCCO, the CBS affiliate in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This story relates how a search into an old film canister led to the discovery of a documentary gem featuring a favorite son of Minneapolis: the musician Prince.
Hearing about this moment of an old film coming into focus, excitement building as people tried to confirm what they thought they had, and especially the emotional reaction from a childhood friend at the end of the story, offered an affirming reminder of the importance of the past and the thrill of peeking back into it.
Sadly, April 21 marked the sixth anniversary of Prince’s death at the early age of 57. He had so much left to give the world, but he had already given so much. We thought we would bookend our entry today with Prince’s legendary performance of his signature hit “Purple Rain” under a real downpour at the Super Bowl XLI Halftime Show back in 2007. Another reason to smile.
From an old film that hadn’t been seen in decades to an event witnessed in real time by over 90 million people, we can marvel at the heights that little boy being interviewed way back when ended up reaching. And we can also reflect on the improbable and miraculous journey of life.