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The Hissing of Summer Lawns

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Audio CD, October 25, 1990
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When the dust settles, Joni Mitchell may stand as the most important and influential female recording artist of the late 20th century. Uncompromising and iconoclastic, Mitchell confounded expectations at every turn; restlessly innovative, her music evolved from deeply personal folk stylings into pop, jazz, avant-garde, and even world music, presaging the multicultural experimentation of the ... Read more in Amazon's Joni Mitchell Store

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The Hissing of Summer Lawns + Hejira + Court and Spark
Price for all three: $26.17

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Elektra / Wea
  • ASIN: B000002GY2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,487 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. In France They Kiss On Main Street
2. The Jungle Line
3. Edith And The Kingpin
4. Don't Interrupt The Sorrow
5. Shades Of Scarlett Conquering
6. The Hissing Of Summer Lawns
7. The Boho Dance
8. Harry's House/Centerpiece
9. Sweet Bird
10. Shadows And Light

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Court and Spark had earned Joni Mitchell mainstream pop acceptance, but its underlying spirit of discovery pushed her to risk new-found success with this edgier, experimental sequel released in 1975. Although the session crew is largely the same, and sleek jazz elements again abound, these songs find her introducing Burundi drums (on "The Jungle Line"), layering magisterial but forbidding vocal harmonies ("Shadows and Light"), and casting rueful shadows across the sun-dazed Southern California of the title song. Her daring promptly earned critical scorn and halted her commercial expansion, but the album's confident eclecticism and dark beauty have outlived that reception: from the safety of hindsight, Hissing was a promise to stay hungry and creatively adventurous, a promise kept then and now. --Sam Sutherland

Customer Reviews

This album is one of the few really flawless albums of our age.
P. Hudson
"The Hissing Of Summer Lawns" was released in 1975 and followed the massive success of her most popular album "Court And Spark" from the previous year.
Busy Body
The poetry and musical taste of Joni Mitchell is totally unique.
Donald Worley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By john on April 9, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Alright- I bought this album on my 17th birthday. On the way home from the mall, I put the CD into the player in the car. After the first tune my buddy took it out and opted to listen to Yes! Hey, Yes is wonderful, but so is Joni! 9 times out of 10, you will meet people like this. People who don't seem to quite "get it" or see the depth in an album like this, Hissing in particular. It makes you feel alone! Really does. I wish I could meet every single one of you who give this album 5 stars. Where have you been all of my life? We could probably assemble a very creative band.

The actual melodies of the album are super duper original. I actually have the sheet music for the album which was printed in '76...and just a brush through some of the notation quickly reveals "not so standard" note usage and changes. That's interesting. It's a 70's thing. A lot of writers of the period could do this. A prime example, and I really hate to trail off, is the song "Children and All that Jazz", by Joan Baez which was also released in 1975 (The album is called "Diamonds and Rust" and Joni appears on does the LA Express!).

When I arrived home and listened to the album properly, it didn't take anymore than 6 minutes to release the insanity commited to tape in '75. I'm not interested in dissecting every song here because I know that we all hold particular melodies dear to ourselves for different reasons, but let me just say this. I realize that "Edith and the Kingpin" is generally considered the "gem" of the album, but I have a different opinion. For myself, Shades Of Scarlett Conquering is what can almost move me to tears. Shades Of Scarlett Conquering is the best writing on the album, as far as notational content is concered and lyrical content.
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88 of 100 people found the following review helpful By 33-year old wallflower on September 7, 2000
Format: Audio CD
COURT AND SPARK won Joni Mitchell the commercial acclaim her songs had won courtesy of other artists. But she's always had a cynical attitude towards the music business, as "Free Man In Paris" off COURT AND SPARK indicated. And while this album made the top 5 on its release, it was her very effective raspberry to the powers that be that run the industry. Except for the opening "In France They Kiss On Main Street", THE HISSING OF SUMMER LAWNS is the epitome of anti-commercial. Joni reaches new emotional heights with songs like "Shades Of Scarlett Conquering", "Don't Interrupt The Sorrow", and "Shadows & Light". "Scarlett" is probably Joni's best-written song ever, while "Shadows" manages to encompass all the majestic sounds of an orchestra with just a chorus of female voices and a synthesizer. If that wasn't enough, there's the African drum sound of "The Jungle Line" which didn't exactly prove to be anti-commercial, but in fact inspired the world music dabblings that Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon, and Sting would base much of their careers on. When released in late 1975, THE HISSING OF SUMMER LAWNS was called by ROLLING STONE magazine as one of the worst albums of the year. For the time, it probably was a unanimous sentiment, but now that time has passed, and Joni Mitchell's career is looked at as a whole, it ranks as one of her most ambitious (and, to the uninitiated, impenetrable) works. As a first album to buy, this is not a wise move. But when you get deeper into her music, you'll find THE HISSING OF SUMMER LAWNS to be quite rewarding.
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55 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Thomas L. Bennett on September 30, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Almost 30 years after it was recorded, The Hissing of Summer Lawns remains a gem.

It shines with a newness, uniqueness and originality that belies its age.

In this set, Mitchell examines the nature of human relationships via a number of set-piece scenarios.

The songs have layers of meaning that are gently peeled back by melody lines that beguile and hypnotise.

The title track with its " pools in the squinting sun ..." draws us in with its descriptive and pointed analogies of a shallow, loveless and materialistic life.

Again, in Harry's House " ... a helicopter lands on the Pan-Am roof like a dragon-fly on a tomb ..." Mitchell draws on superbly crafted images in her scathing indictment of manipulative, but ultimately mediocre, people who achieve the meaningless lives they deserve.

Edith and the Kingpin is again an insightful observation of an unlikely, and probably unenduring, coupling.

Don't Interrupt the Sorrow and Shades of Scarlet Conquering are rich in imagery and irony.

Overall, the narratives are wrapped in strong soft rock melody lines laced with contemporary jazz nuances.

Great art endures and that may be why The Hissing of Summer Lawns still shines these many years after its initial release.

FIVE STARS for the poetry and superb musicality of it.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By D. Berdanis VINE VOICE on December 10, 2006
Format: Audio CD
I was one of the music lovers that rejected Joni's delving into experimentalism and stronger jazz elements in her songs. At the time I only had ears for hard rock with a few (but not too many) rock ballads thrown in.

This year I began exploring Joni's catalog that I had ignorred so many years. I was prompted by checking one of her recent CDs out from the library. Taming The Tiger.

Court and Spark had always been in my all time top 10 favorites list, but I wanted to see what else she had done in the 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s that I had missed.

Just bought this album along with Hejira. I love them both but especially this album and The Jungle Line! Hypnotic.

Didn't find a single song that I don't like on it. And many that I love.

But like I said. I wasn't ready for this until my music tastes matured. I think the alternative/modern rock era has had that affect on me. Listening to softer, beautiful songs like Dave Mathews Band, Counting Crows, Sting, etc. had taught me to love, prepared the way for me to return to Joni.

Joni, thanks for the vast collection of beautiful music you've shared with the world!
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