Al “Carnival Time” Johnson hasn’t been the most prolific of New Orleans’ musicians, releasing a song every 40 years or so. It took a hurricane and the loss of his long-time house on Tennessee Street in the Lower Ninth Ward to get him to record another one, and this one’s a slice of traditional New Orleans R&B with Johnson accompanying himself on the piano. The song is more effective than you might expect because Johnson doesn’t go for metaphor or poetry that tries to dramatize an event that was dramatic beyond comprehension. He breaks it down to the simplest level, his relationship with his house: “I loved it and it loved me.”
The CD single also comes with video footage (I assume of Johnson’s house, but I couldn’t get it to open and play) and still photos of his house after the storm. Those who lived it will recognize the muck and mold and destruction from their own houses, but for those who live elsewhere, the CD illuminates on one man’s Katrina experience with a personal scope that is all the more effective for its understatement.