Rousseau walks on trumpet paths
Safaris to the heart of all that jazz
Through I-bars and girders, through wires and pipes
The mathematic circuits of the modern nights,
Through huts, through Harlem, through jails and gospel pews
Through the class on Park and the trash on Vine
Through Europe and the deep deep heart of Dixie blue
Through savage progress cuts the jungle line.
Perhaps the most extraordinary track on one of the most original and brilliant albums, 1975’s The Hissing of Summer Lawns, this song catches the listener unawares, taking us into various timezones, cultures and levels of consciousness with it’s eery melody and words inspired by the painting of Henri Rousseau. Mitchell flicks into acoustic guitar lightly, and plays strange sounds on the Moog, along with crowd cheers, but the most outstanding part of the music is the drums. Linking to yesterday’s Kings of the Wild Frontier by Adam & The Ants, it’s quite possible that they were in turn influenced by this Mitchell track. But who influenced Mitchell? The Drummers of Burundi are listed as playing on here. But let’s listen. First, The Jungle Line, with its distinctive album cover with snake carriers set in the skyline of Beverley Hills:
But now check out this 1967 track by Ingoma Tribe, Ensemble De Tambours, from the album Musique Du Burundi (1968).
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