Tuesday, October 4, 2016

114. Joni Mitchell - Hissing of Summer Lawns

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On this work, I tried to fuse two images together while seeing to it that the resulting image would fit an 18X10 frame. The two images are
photograph which has been processed  to look cartoonized  and the illustration that was inspired by it.  These two images are opposites of
each other in their own right. 

The photo looks raw,  down-to-earth and portrays  an actual and not so unusual event for the characters  involved it.  The illustration that it
inspired retains the former's somewhat primitive character but possesses a finesse and cosmopolitanism far detached from the original while
still assuming the same animal forms that gave it essence.   

In the dedication on the inside gatefold of her album The Hissing of Summer Lawns, Canadian singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell thanks National Geographic Magazine,
amongst others, but doesn’t explain why. Here’s why:

The photographer was explorer W. Jesco von Puttkamer, who documented the plight of “Brazil’s Beleaguered Indians” for National Geographic‘s February 1975 issue.

Joni Mitchell’s The Hissing of Summer Lawns was released in November 1975.  In her notes,  Mitchell tells us that she “drew the cover and designed the package with
research help and guidance from Glen Christensen, Elektra/Asylum Art Director.” She thanks National Geographic Magazine and others, as I’ve already said. She does
not, however, mention W. Jesco von Puttkamer by name.

Of course,  I realize that 1975 is a long time ago,  but it was only today at a garage sale  that I purchased the  National Geographic Picture Atlas of Our World (1979)
for a buck and instantly  recognized the reprint of  W. Jesco von Puttkamer’s  photo on page 72 as one  of the  primary reference  sources for Joni Mitchell’s drawing.
Ragged Claws Network

Photo from mylonesomeblues.tumblr.com

This is the album's outside gatefold.

This is the version of the gatefold which I used for the work above.

No. 217,  The Virgin  All-Time Album Top 1000

Album produced by Joni Mitchell. Asylum 1975.

"I drew the cover and designed  the package with research  help and guidance  from Glen Christensen,  Electra/Asylum Art Director.  The photo is Norman Seef's."
- Joni Mitchell (with thanks to National Geographic Magazinejonimitchell.com

"But even on the scuffle, the cleaner’s press was in my jeans/And any eye for detail caught a little lace along the seams,” sang Joni Mitchell on a song called "The
Boho Dance"  from her 1975 album  The Hissing of Summer Lawns.  If the couplet was an acknowledgment of her Canadian well-bredness,  it was also the perfect
metaphor for the increasing sophistication of her music at that time, the “lace along the seams” of her songs.

“For a long time,  I’ve been playing in straight rhythms,”  Mitchell told her friend,  Malka Marom,  in 1973,  in the first of the three extended interviews that are
included in the book Both Sides Now.  “But now,  in order to sophisticate  my music to my own taste,  I push it into odd places  that feel a little unusual to me, so
that I feel I’m stretching out.”

Sophistication  –  melodic, lyrical, compositional  – is an undervalued currency in popular music, though it illuminates the finest songs written by artists as diverse
as Lennon and McCartney,  Randy Newman,  Ray Davies, Brian Wilson,  Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield  as well as the songwriters for hire of an earlier era – Cole
Porter, Rodgers and Hart, George Gershwin. It also defines the best songs that Joni Mitchell wrote at her creative peak, which, for me, stretched from the release
of Blue (1971), For the Roses (1972),  Court and Spark (1974)  and The Hissing of Summer Lawns (1975),  to the pared and broodingly atmospheric Hejira (1976).
Sean O'Hagan on The Guardian, edited

"The Hissing of Summer Lawns" music video from sonicboy19 on YouTube.




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