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The Hissing of Summer Lawns

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Editors’ Notes

Never one to stay in one space for long, Joni Mitchell followed up the commercial success of Court and Spark with the daring and challenging The Hissing of Summer Lawns, where the allure of the city fueled her teenage dreams away from the suburbs on “In France They Kiss on Main Street." The Drummers of Burundi and a Moog synthesizer provided unusual menace to “The Jungle Line,” a celebration of French Post-Impressionistic painter Henri Rousseau. Mitchell was a cool decade ahead of other singer/songwriters here, and initial responses to the album reflected this. However, in retrospect, this set is yet another masterpiece.

Customer Reviews

Way more than just a girl with a guitar...

Essentially Joni’s most esoteric record, "Hissing of Summer Lawns" is a vivid musical escapade that really speaks of her true musical strengths and talents combining pop/folk songwriting with unconventional, genre-bending arrangements. Sometimes criticized for being too lyrically and sonically abstract, the album also marks the start of when the serious jazz cats were first brought into the fold with Joni’s music (earlier ensembles had included rock/jazz/fusion players, like the LA Express, but not quite the full jazz pedigree that began with HOSL), a big sign Joni's music was taking a turn from the mainstream. Where the earlier release "Blue" was Joni’s intimate personal revelation, "Hissing of Summer Lawns" became her opus to the external world, to the many-faceted, colorful, crazy world around her. It’s sort of a concept album - lush, textured, melodically challenging, full of metaphorical imagery, and obscure stories. In a way, it’s Joni waxing Picasso a bit. It’s like her “Alice in Wonderland” moment. This record takes a few listens to really appreciate. But it’s SO unique. Love it.


Joni took a leap of faith with this under-rated album and it is one of her best musically and lyrically with its brute sophistication. Gone is the lipstick and beret feel of "Court and Spark"; present is an almost film noire approach in melody and style and is it a mere coincidence that a song like "Shadows and Light" would appear as its last track? Or is this what she was driving at as the end result? Her voice never sounded better nor has her musicianship. This album is a collage of diverse styles and shape, known for her paintings as well as her music, this album is a canvas of color and impressionism capturing raw emotion and there is a lot of edge. Other than her masterpiece "Blue", "The Hissing of Summer Lawns" stands out as one of her best but unlike "Blue", it is much more timeless and less self-absorbed. Joni went from singer/songwriter to accomplished musicianship with this project. This album also had the lowest sales of any of her works, a fact which seems mystifying but perhaps a blessing in disguise. This is a work that cries out to be heard in its entirety. This album is truly classic, "Sweet Bird" is one of the most moving and sensual pieces she has ever written. Released in 1975 it went practically unnoticed, probably because it was so far ahead of its time that it was impossible for people to truly absorb it.

The Hissing of "Thanks."

Thank you for finally posting this major part of JM's discography. The album still "has legs" after all these years because of Joni's unique imagery and melodies, not to mention, various studio musicians (think LA Express and Crusaders) who were at the top of their game in the mid 70's. Every aspiring singer-songwriter should familiarize themselves with this work.


Born: November 7, 1943 in Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

No female artist better typified the singer/songwriter movement of the '70s than Joni Mitchell, though her public image as the serious, sensitive woman with a guitar shortchanged her abilities, ambitions, and accomplishments. Mitchell's gift for writing personal, folk-inspired songs about the thorny side of life and love was inarguable (particularly on albums like 1970's Ladies of the Canyon and 1971's Blue), but Mitchell also brought the same smarts and eloquence to glossy pop on her commercial...
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