The Hissing Of Summer Lawns
Artist: Joni Mitchell
Format: Digital


Available Formats and Editions


''The Hissing of Summer Lawns'' is a 1975 album by Joni Mitchell.

"In France They Kiss on Main Street", the starter, is a jazz-rock song about coming of age in a small town in the rock & roll-driven 1950s. (The song was released as the single from the album and reached #66 on the ''Billboard'' charts.) "The Jungle Line" borrows a field recording from Africa of the Drummers of Burundi (mistakenly called 'warrior drums' in the credits), onto which Joni dubs guitar, synthesizer and her vocal line. The lyrics pay homage to the works of the French Post-Impressionist Painter Henri Rousseau. Mitchell blends details of his works with imagery of modern city life, the music industry and the underground drug culture. "Edith and the Kingpin" marks a return to jazz in a story of a gangster's new moll arriving in his home town. "Don't Interrupt The Sorrow" is an acoustic guitar-based song with stream-of-consciousness lyrics.

"Shades of Scarlett Conquering" is an orchestral based piece about a southern belle. The title track, "The Hissing of Summer Lawns", is about a woman who is being treated as part of her husband's portfolio, with the central image an imagining that the sprinklers on suburban lawns are in some way expressing disapproval at the materialistic culture contained in those houses. (Another interpretation of the phrase "hissing of summer lawns" is based on how, during the summer in the heat of the San Fernando Valley, grass lawns actually emit a noticeable hissing sound after the sprinklers are turned off. It's very strange and alien and enforces the "this is not a real home" feeling.) "The Boho Dance" comments on people who feel that artists sell out their "purity" for commercial success, with an ironic glance at those who said this of Joni herself. "Harry's House/Centerpiece" concerns a failing marriage and is wrapped around the old jazz standard, "Centerpiece", by H.Edison and J.Hendricks. "Sweet Bird" is a sparser acoustic track that is a slight return to Joni's more confessional singer-songwriter style. The album closer is "Shadows and Light", consisting of multiple overdubs of her voice and an ARP String Machine (credited as an ARP-Farfisa on the album sleeve).

The African theme of "The Jungle Line" is continued on the album sleeve, with an image of natives carrying a huge captured snake (both were embossed or "raised" on the original vinyl album cover). The men and the snake are superimposed against the Beverly Hills suburbs, with Mitchell's own house marked in blue on the back cover.

The album was not as radio-friendly as Mitchell's earlier work, and although the album achieved initial commercial success, reaching #4 on the charts and quickly going gold, contemporary reviewers were not entirely kind.. The atmospherics of the record remain among its strengths. - Wikipedia