The Hissing of Summer Lawns

Release date:  November 1975

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Album Notes

In France They Kiss On Main Street
Background voices - G. Nash, D. Crosby, J. Taylor, and Joni Mitchell
Electric guitar - Robben Ford and Jeff Baxter
Acoustic guitar - Joni Mitchell
Electric piano - Victor Feldman
Drums - John Guerin
Bass - Max Bennett

The Jungle Line
Moog and acoustic guitar - Joni Mitchell
and the warrior drums of Burundi

Edith And The Kingpin
Electric piano - Joe Sample
Electric guitar - Larry Carlton
Acoustic guitar - Joni Mitchell
Bass - Wilton Felder
Drums - John Guerin
Horn - Chuck Findley
Sax and flute - Bud Shank

Don't Interrupt The Sorrow
Acoustic guitars - Joni Mitchell
Electric guitars - Larry Carlton
Dobro - Robben Ford
Bass - Wilton Felder
Drums - John Guerin
Congas - Victor Feldman

Shades Of Scarlet Conquering
Piano - Joni Mitchell
Electric piano and vibes - Victor Feldman
Electric guitar - Larry Carlton
Bass - Max Bennett
Drums - John Guerin
String arrangement - Dale Oehler

The Hissing Of Summer Lawns
Keyboard and percussion - Victor Feldman
Trumpet - Chuck Findley
Sax and Flute - Bud Shank
Guitar - James Taylor
Bass - Max Benett
Arrangement - drums - Moog - John Guerin

The Boho Dance
Keyboards - Joni Mitchell
Bass - Max Bennett
Drums - John Guerin
Flugle horn - Chuck Findley
Bass flute - Bud Shank

Harry's House - Centerpiece
Keyboards - Joe Sample
Guitar - Robben Ford
Trumpets - Chuck Findley
Drums - John Guerin
Bass - Max Bennett

Sweet Bird
Piano and acoustic guitars - Joni Mitchell
Electric guitars - Larry Carlton

Shadows And Light
Arp-Farfisa and voices - Joni Mitchell

This record is a total work conceived graphically, musically, lyrically and accidentally - as a whole. The performances were guided by the given compositional structures and the audibly inspired beauty of every player. The whole unfolded like a mystery. It is not my intention to unravel that mystery for anyone, but rather to offer some additional clues:

"Centerpiece" is a Johnny Mandel-Jon Hendricks tune. John Guerin and I collaborated on "The Hissing Of Summer Lawns." "The Boho Dance" is a Tom Wolfe-ism from the book, "The Painted Word." The poem, "Don't Interrupt The Sorrow" was born around 4 a.m. in a New York loft. Larry Poons seeded it and Bobby Neuwirth was midwife here, but the child filtered thru Genesis at Jackson Lake, Saskatchewan, is rebellious and mystical and insists that its conception was immaculate.

Henry - more than an engineer - Lewy and his assistant Ellis Sorkin, piloted these tapes to their destination; Henry and I mixed them; and Bernie Grundman mastered them at A&M studios in Hollywood.

I drew the cover and designed the package with research help and guidance from Glen Christensen, Electra/Asylum Art Director. The photo is Norman Seeff's.

I would especially like to thank Myrt and Bill Anderson, North Battleford, New York, Saskatoon, Bel-Air, Burbank, Burundi, Orange County, the deep, deep heart of Dixie, Blue, National Geographic Magazine, Helpful Henry The Housewife's Delight - and John Guerin for showing me the root of the chordand where 1 was.

She could see the blue pools in the squinting sun and hear the hissing of summer lawns...

All songs written and composed by Joni Mitchell copyright 1975 by Crazy Crow Music BMI, except "Centerpiece," written and composed by Johnny Mandel and Jon Hendricks and published by Caphryl Music ASCAP copyright 1958 and "The Hissing Of Summer Lawns," written and composed by John Guerin and Joni Mitchell and published by Crazy Crow Music BMI and Man Man's Drum Music ASCAP. All Lyrics reprinted with permission of the publishers. All Rights reserved.

Max Bennett, Robben Ford, Victor Feldman and John Guerin - Courtesy of The L.A. Express - Caribou Records. Larry Carlton, Wilton Felder and Joe Sample - Courtesy of the Jazz Crusaders-ABC-Blue Thumb Records. Graham Nash, Dave Crosby - Courtesy of ABC Records. James Taylor - Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records.

Reviews of the album from the Library:

Transcriptions of songs from the album:


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Topcat63 on

This is still the "go to" Joni album for me...I first heard it in 1978 when I was 15 and bought it. When Edith & The Kingpin came on, I just went "oh, here's something I've never heard anyone do before" - that juggling of human, the animal, the spiritual across the whole thing - like a David Lynch movie or a Dali painting. I've never forgotten that and I cannot respect those who stick to her earlier career - here (and Hejira, and parts of C & S before, and Don Juan after) is where her greatness is truly at.

nettie on

Joni references National Geographic magazine on the inside cover of the album. Much to my surprise, in leafing through some old magazines my parents had I came across the photo that inspired her cover painting. I must say, she did a pretty good job of capturing the men who are handling the snake! After googling the Feb. 1975 article, I found it. See photos on pages 3 and 4 of this PDF link:


Shlivewitz on

"...power, ideals and beauty
fading in everyone's hand
give me some time
I feel like I'm losing mine
Out here on this horizon line
with the earth spinning and the sky forever rushing..."joni mitchell
this album is a treasure

Dave_Watts on

Just want to say this album is perfect. It captures the spirit of the 70's like no other, and inspired poetry, yellow taxi fishes swimming.

Ian Welland on

In a BBC Interview with Richard Skinner on 23 April 1983, Joni mentioned how an album of Burundi drumming mysteriously entered her collection prior to the recording of 'Hissing...' and she was so impressed finding the roots of western music coming in from African rhythms. I have to agree. Also, loved her comment that the album was a kind of 'Walkabout' moment - she compared the album to the final scene in the Australian film where the woman is looking out of her suburbia window at the wilderness beyond and wishing she was back in the outback rather than tangled up in a loveless marriage. With this all in mind, I have recently re-listened to this album and have grown to love it all over again!

hkrabye on

One of my favorite albums. It's a celebration of musical and poetic beauty.

JoniMySavior on

I just have to say though, I agree 100, with Joan's later interviews in that, the lazy critics comment, the rest often follow with their judgments. This album, Hissing of Summer Lawns, should have been the next bigger success for her. Higher and better than Court and Spark. Bar none, this album marks the division between a material place that the world would funnel into, and the point where each individual should lead for their own. At first, it seems like a big leap, but not really after.

mrtpiano on

This is my favourite album of Joni's and ive posted an online discussion about it on this website's forum which i'd love anyone to comment on. As Joni mentioned in the liner notes, there are mysteries to unravel and she invites us to speculate about the songs and the album's meaning. I believe there are many clues buried in the lyrics. I found a direct link with a verse on the title track and a scene from a David Bowie documentary film "Cracked Actor", (released at the time of recording). Its a sublime, ambiguous and beautifully performed album which still has things yet to be revealed.

Jacquie on

I've listened to this one so much, the music has a taste in my month! Just the title itself "the hissing of summer lawns" is great, I can hear cicadas and feel the still heat. The cover art work is fascinating with this group of men carrying a fantastic jungle creature out or to the big city. LOVE IT.