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New Views: The Hissing of Summer Lawns Print-ready version

by Terri Van House
Lookout (U of Georgia)
January 8, 1976
Original article: PDF

Joni Mitchell

Court and Spark took a lot of people by surprise. It was a lot different than what anyone had heard or expected Joni Mitchell to do, but it put her on the cover of Time and sold a lot of records. The cult goddess was legitimized, accepted and finally, commercialized.

But now she has a new album and all that is changed. Ever since she hooked up with Tom Scott and the L.A. Express her style has been undergoing great changes. Although Court and Spark seemed to be her highest plateau, it now appears that it was only another level of development seemingly alien to and detached from the last.

She has again created a new level above the old and it is as different and renewing as the last.

It is called The Hissing of Summer Lawns, and it almost constitutes a glimpse of genius.

Hissing is a study of lifestyles filtered through tasteful jazz. "The Jungle Line" is a poem to Rousseau, a genius surrounded by the opiates of his environment. It is the most striking cut on the album and, at the first listening, the most unpleasant.

Suburbia is presented as strikingly as is the Old South in "Shades of Scarlett Conquering," but the music graciously disguises each theme as well as it enhances it.

Each cut is a jewel as many faceted and glowing as Joni Mitchell swimming in the sun.

It won't sell as many copies as Court and Spark, but it has far surpassed it in style.

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Added to Library on July 18, 2017. (4524)


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