All-Time Albums: #70


JONI MITCHELL The Hissing Of Summer Lawns

1 In France They Kiss On Maine Street 3:19
The Jungle Line 4:24
3 Edith And The Kingpin 3:36
4 Don’t Interrupt The Sorrow 4:04
5 Shades Of Scarlett Conquering 4:58
6 The Hissing Of Summer Lawns 3:01
7 The Boho Dance 3:49
Harry’s House / Centerpiece 6:49
9 Sweet Bird 4:11
10 Shadows And Light 4:19

Joni’s 8th album (and 7th studio set) marked a pivotal moment in her career, and future creative direction. 1974’s Court & Spark took her to the very summit of the US album chart, cementing her position as FM radio favourite and darling of the Laurel Canyon scene. The confessional, acoustic stylings of Blue were already a long way in the distance, as she embraced more sophisticated arrangements and song structures.

The Hissing Of Summer Lawns went even further from the mainstream, fashioning tribal rhythms on The Jungle Line and minimalist new-age keyboard washes on Shadows & Light.

This is the start of the Joni Mitchell that I know best, the highly-articulate and keenly-intelligent observer of modern culture and society. The multi-tracked vocals, the way she uses her voice as a rhythmical instrument. The strong sense of atmosphere, the willingness to deconstruct the very way of life and way of thinking that she herself had embraced and bought into as a wealthy, upwardly-mobile baby boomer. Hissing Of Summer Lawns is the direct precursor to her (maligned) ’80s work on Dog Eat Dog as well as Turbulent Indigo in the ’90s.

There are no hit singles (In France They Kiss On Maine Street peaked at #66 Stateside), scuppering her commercial progress, but it was arguably her most important record as it set her on course for a series of seminal, challenging albums like Hejira, Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter and Mingus.

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