In November 1975, Joni Mitchell released what would perhaps be considered her most misunderstood album, The Hissing of Summer Lawns. The album finds the singer-songwriter experimenting with jazz-rock, and even with other elements including African drums.
Lyrically, topics on the album included conflicts between artistry and commercial success (“The Boho Dance”), male dominance (“Edith and the Kingpin”), and failings of a relationship (“Harry’s House/Centerpiece”, which was co-written by Jon Hendricks and Harry Edison). Other key tracks would include “The Jungle Line” (which kicked off with heavy beating on African drums), the opener “In France They Kiss on Main Street”, the closer “Shadows and Light” (which later became the title for her 1980 live album), and the title track.
Though The Hissing of Summer Lawns became Mitchell’s third consecutive top ten album in the U.S. (and fourth in Canada), the album was upon released, not as well received by critics, especially those from Rolling Stone, whose poll had placed the album as one of the worst of the year. Still, the album went gold, and was nominated for a Grammy award. Through the years, critical reception improved, and now the album is considered one of her best, along with landmarks including Blue and Court and Spark. It was even considered to be one of the 1001 albums to be heard before one’s passing.