The Hissing of Summer Lawns

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The Hissing of Summer Lawns
Studio album by Joni Mitchell
Released November 1975
Recorded 1975
Genre Folk jazz, experimental
Length 42:34
Label Asylum
Producer Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell chronology
Miles of Aisles
The Hissing of Summer Lawns
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Pitchfork Media (10/10)[2]
Robert Christgau (B)[3]
Rolling Stone (mixed)[4]
Rolling Stone Album Guide 3.5/5 stars[5]
Martin C. Strong (8/10)[6]
Paul Roland 4/5 stars[7]
Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music 5/5 stars[8]
Le Guide du CD 4/4 stars[9]

The Hissing of Summer Lawns is a studio album by Canadian songwriter Joni Mitchell.


At the 19th Grammy Awards, Mitchell was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for The Hissing of Summer Lawns.


The first track, "In France They Kiss on Main Street", is a jazz-rock song about coming of age in a small town in the 1950s rock & roll era. (The song was released as the single from the album and reached number 66 on the Billboard charts.) "The Jungle Line" uses a field recording from Africa of the Drummers of Burundi (mistakenly called 'warrior drums' in the credits), onto which are dubbed guitar, Moog synthesizer and the 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, focused on women standing up to male dominance and proclaiming their own existence as individuals. "Shades of Scarlett Conquering" is an orchestral based piece about a southern belle, implying tho not exactly stating, the Scarlett O'Hara character from Gone With The Wind. The title track, "The Hissing of Summer Lawns", is about a woman who is treated as part of her husband's portfolio, with a central image of the lawn sprinklers hissing their disapproval of the materialistic culture of the houses.[citation needed] or perhaps the hiss of the snake that appears on the cover.

"The Boho Dance" comments on people who feel that artists betray their artistic integrity for commercial success, with an ironic glance at those who said this of Mitchell herself.[citation needed] "Harry's House/Centerpiece" concerns a failing marriage and is based on the jazz standard, "Centerpiece", by Harry "Sweets" Edison and Jon Hendricks. "Sweet Bird" is a sparser acoustic track that is a slight return to Mitchell's more confessional singer-songwriter style. Its lyrics indicate that it may also be a reference to Tennessee's William's Sweet Bird of Youth. (Mitchell was in her thirties when she recorded the album and may have been thinking that her sweet bird of youth had flown) The final track is "Shadows and Light", consisting of many 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" also features on the album sleeve, with an image of natives carrying a large snake (both were embossed on the original vinyl album cover). Both men and snake are superimposed on the Beverly Hills suburbs, with Mitchell's own house marked in blue (green for the UK issue) on the back cover.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Joni Mitchell, except where noted. 

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "In France They Kiss on Main Street"   3:19
2. "The Jungle Line"   4:25
3. "Edith and the Kingpin"   3:38
4. "Don't Interrupt the Sorrow"   4:05
5. "Shades of Scarlett Conquering"   4:59
Side two
No. Title Length
6. "The Hissing of Summer Lawns" (Joni Mitchell, John Guerin) 3:01
7. "The Boho Dance"   3:48
8. "Harry's House / Centerpiece" (Joni Mitchell / Jon Hendricks, Harry Edison) 6:48
9. "Sweet Bird"   4:12
10. "Shadows and Light"   4:19


  • Joni Mitchell : vocals, acoustic guitar (01, 02, 03, 04, 09), Moog (02), piano (05, 09), keyboards (07), Arp (10), Farfisa (10)
  • Graham Nash : background vocals (01)
  • David Crosby : background vocals (01)
  • James Taylor : background vocals (01), guitar (06)
  • Robben Ford : electric guitar (01), dobro (04), guitar (08)
  • Jeff Baxter : electric guitar (01)
  • Larry Carlton : electric guitar (03, 04, 05, 09)
  • Victor Feldman : electric piano (01, 05), congas (04), vibes (05), keyboards (06), percussion (06)
  • Joe Sample : electric piano (03), keyboards (08)
  • John Guerin : drums (01, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08), arrangement (06), Moog (06)
  • Max Bennett : bass (01, 05, 06, 07, 08)
  • Wilton Felder : bass (03, 04)
  • The Warrior Drums of Burundi (02)
  • Chuck Findley : horn (03), trumpet (06, 08), flugelhorn (07)
  • Bud Shank : saxophone and flute (03, 06), bass flute (07)
  • Dale Oehler : string arrangement (05)
  • Henry Lewy : engineer
  • Ellis Sorkin : engineer and assistant engineer


External links[edit]