Friday, January 20, 2012

Amour mama! Not cheap display

The first 100 or so times I listened to Joni Mitchell's The Hissing of Summer Lawns, I didn't really take much notice of the opening track "In France They Kiss on Main Street". It's the most conventional sounding pop song on the album, and for a long time I was so focused on the enticing strangeness of all the other songs that this one just didn't make much of an impression. The other day, however, I pulled up this album on my iPod and without warning the greatness of this song suddenly knocked me flat. It's a nostalgia song about being young and wild in a very specific time, when "rock 'n' roll" stood for a certain kind of rebelliousness that sounds almost quaint now. It's sort of a short story about being a teenager in a very different time and place.

I'm not sure if it takes most people a year or so of listening to this song for it to suddenly come through and take life, but I'm glad it finally did for me. It's great. Below is a slightly weird video of a live version...judging by her hair and clothes, a live version from the 1980s.


drischord said...

That video is from "Shadows and Light," which is a full concert film. The band in it is awesome-- Pat Metheny on lead guitar, Jaco Pastorius on bass, Michael Brecker on sax... bunch of other great players too. It's from her 1979 tour in support of Mingus, one of those truly flawed-yet-fascinating albums-- and her last album worth hearing for a decade.

It's funny that this song originally passed you by. I LOVED it from my very first listen, esp. because of that awesome harmonized chorus hook. I miss the vocal harmonies in the live version but it's still a great performance. That song and Don't Interrupt the Sorrow are my 2 favorites on the album-- the latter possibly being my favorite Joni Mitchell song period. Although there's a long list of contenders...

If not that song, what were the instant highlights of that album for you, Q?

Quinapalus said...

Pretty much everything in between "The Jungle Line" and that bizarre final song were instant highlights for me. "In France" initially struck me a pop oriented add-on track that didn't quite fit with the rest of the album. Not bad...just not mind blowing.