THE ICON: Al “Carnival Time” Johnson
THE LEGACY: Some people leave legacies in books or paintings or massive buildings. Others’ legacies are embodied in sweeping policies that benefit millions. Al “Carnival Time” Johnson’s legacy pours out of jukeboxes, boom boxes, nightspots and every street band imaginable between Twelfth Night and Fat Tuesday. That’s because, with “Carnival Time,” which he wrote and recorded in 1960 for Ric Records, Johnson created a simple, strutting song that gets people moving and ready to party. They can’t help themselves. Like strong drink, it has an aftereffect: “Carnival Time” invades one’s brain for days on end and stays there.
THE ARTIST: Queen Hope Parker
THE INSPIRATION: “We tried to get the song out for Carnival the year before, but the band couldn’t get it together. You see, I was always told that to be good you had to be different. Well, ‘Carnival Time’ was so different that the musicians had a hard time playing it.” — Al “Carnival Time” Johnson, in a 1989 interview with The Times-Picayune