The Hissing of Summer Lawns

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The Hissing of Summer Lawns
Joni hissing.jpg
Studio album by Joni Mitchell
Released November 1975
Recorded 1975
Genre Folk jazz, avant-pop[1]
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[2]
Robert Christgau B[4]
Le Guide du CD 4/4 stars[8]
MusicHound 4/5 stars[5]
Pitchfork Media 10/10[3]
Paul Roland 4/5 stars[8]
Rolling Stone (mixed)[6]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3.5/5 stars[7]
Martin C. Strong 8/10[8]
Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music 5/5 stars[8]

The Hissing of Summer Lawns is the seventh studio album by the Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, released in 1975.


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 (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, presumably 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.

"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 so-called '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.)[citation needed] 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.


Initially, due to the jazz influence and highly experimental nature of the album, the record received harsh criticism, with Rolling Stone listing it as one of the worst albums of the year.[9] However, the record's reputation has grown in stature and has been called Mitchell's masterpiece, "an LP to stand alongside Blood on the Tracks".[10] Prince, a lifelong fan of Mitchell, had loved the album, praising it in interviews.[11]

In 1977, at the 19th Grammy Awards, Mitchell was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for the album.

The album was included in Robert Dimery's 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[12]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written 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 Writer(s) 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


  • Henry Lewy – engineer
  • Ellis Sorkin – assistant engineer


  1. ^ Grimstad, Paul. "What is Avant-Pop?". Brooklyn Rail. Retrieved 1 October 2016. 
  2. ^ Ankeny, Jason (2011). "The Hissing of Summer Lawns – Joni Mitchell | AllMusic". Retrieved 19 July 2011. 
  3. ^ "Joni Mitchell: The Studio Albums 1968–1979 | Album Reviews". Pitchfork. Retrieved 24 May 2013. 
  4. ^ Christgau, Robert (2011). "Robert Christgau: CG: joni mitchell". Retrieved 19 July 2011. 
  5. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds) (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 769. ISBN 1-57859-061-2. 
  6. ^ Holden, Stephen (2011). "Joni Mitchell: The Hissing Of Summer Lawns : Music Reviews : Rolling Stone". Archived from the original on January 24, 2009. Retrieved 19 July 2011. 
  7. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). "Joni Mitchell". The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. London: Fireside. pp. 547–48. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. Retrieved 8 September 2009.  Portions posted at "Joni Mitchell > Album Guide". Archived from the original on July 31, 2011. Retrieved June 2, 2015. 
  8. ^ a b c d "Joni Mitchell The Hissing of Summer Lawns". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved June 2, 2015. 
  9. ^ Group, Gale; Escamilla, Brian (1996). Contemporary Musicians: Vol 17. Michigan, United States: Cengage Gale. p. 176. ISBN 0787600989. 
  10. ^ Sounes, Howard (2006). Seventies: The Sights, Sounds and Ideas of a Brilliant Decade. New York: Simon & Schuster Ltd. p. 244. ISBN 0743268598. 
  11. ^ Errett, Joshua (22 April 2016). "Prince loved Toronto and these 5 Toronto women". CBC News. Retrieved 7 May 2016. 
  12. ^ Dimery, Robert (Editor) (2013). 1001: Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. London: Cassell Publishing. p. 323. ISBN 1844037355. 

External links[edit]