We all have many different influences during our lives that makes us the people we are today. Some of them are good and some of them are not so good. Either way , good or bad , how we process these and react to them are what defines our character.
Sometimes we don’t even realize for years what an impact one certain event or individual has upon us. Many times it is to late to say thank you or to ask why. This is the case with the Reverend Pearly Brown.
We simply called him Pearly when we were growing up in Macon. Pearly was as big a part of Macon , Georgia as Otis Redding or Little Richard or The Allman Brothers and will be remembered by many longer than Jason Aldean. He was pretty much unknown to everyone besides God and the folks of Macon. Unfortunately , his legacy will probably die out with my generation.
You would always find Pearly playing his guitar and honking on his harp somewhere downtown. He was blind and black and independent as the wind coming and going , blowing from one end of downtown to the other. He survived by donations from passers by but he never asked anyone for anything. Not even help crossing a busy street. He would let you help him and play you a song to thank you but he didn’t want anything for nothing.
I grew up in a very large family where gospel music was sang and played but I had never heard the songs Pearly sang at home or anywhere else before or since. They were songs of great suffering and great faith and it was mind boggling how this blind , black , street musician living in the deep south , could always be smiling and so happy.
His smile was like something that I have never seen. So much so that a hometown band named Wet Willie used his picture on the cover of their best selling album Keep on Smiling!They had to remove it though because he never even knew they took the picture.
It was a special treat as a young man to stand and listen to Pearly play and try to hum along or do harmony. He gave me an undying appreciation for the music he played and the message of love , hope and faith. This coming from a man who had every right to sing nothing more than the blues.
So Reverend Brown today I am sending your sweet , sweet , smile and message around the world. I know it is to late for you to know this but I thank you for everything that you have given me. You touched my soul and my spirit without either one of us knowing it at the time. Well , I guess that’s not true. I believe now that you saw exactly what you were doing to us at the time. We were the ones that were blind.
Keep on smiling Pearly. I’ll see ya later.