196 words about The Hissing of Summer Lawns
Joni Mitchell never lies
Joni Mitchell has accolades for days, but on The Hissing of Summer Lawns you come into contact with the essence of her artistry: bravery and wisdom. Those two things condense, simmer and then boil into a pitch on the closer “Shadows and Light.” The structure is almost liturgical, a dance between Joni’s voice, a chorus and a synthesizer. As the song continues, the spacing and interplay become more complex while remaining entrancing. But it is Joni’s words that embed themselves into your brain and change the way light hits your eyes, deepening the contrast of shadows, bringing their beauty forward. The philosophy of the song isn’t new now and it wasn’t new in 1975, but Joni speaks it in a way that makes it feel as fertile as that summer grass. “Suntans in reservation dining rooms / Pale miners in their lantern rays.” Humanity has its thumb on the scale of the natural balance, and that extends to our mythos. “God of cruelty / God of delight.” The Devil gets the same titles. The president has a “hostage smile,” while the subway cries for freedom. Judges wear black and white. Night and day. Shadows and light.