Leonard Cohen/Herbie Hancock/Joni Mitchell: The Jungle Line

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The Jungle Line

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

in a low-cut blouse she brings the beer
Rousseau paints a jungle flower behind her ear
those cannibals of shuck-and-jive
they'll eat a working girl like her alive
with his hard-edged eye and his steady hand
he paints the cellar full of ferns and orchid vines
and he hangs a moon above the five-piece band
he hangs it up above the jungle line

the jungle line. the jungle line
screaming in a ritual of sound and time
floating, drifting on the air-conditioned wind
and drooling for a taste of something smuggled in
pretty women funneled through valves and smoke
coy and bitchy, wild and fine
and charging elephants and chanting slaving boats
charging, chanting down the jungle line

there's a poppy wreath on a soldier's tomb
there's a poppy snake in the dressing room
poppy poison-poppy tourniquet
it slithers away on brass like mouthpiece spit
and metal skin and ivory birds
go steaming up to Rousseau's vines
they go steaming up to Brooklyn Bridge
steaming, steaming, steaming up the jungle line



songwriter: Joni Mitchell

performed by: Leonard Cohen and Herbie Hancock

date released: 1975 by Joni Mitchell; re-released by Leonard Cohen and Herbie Hancock in 2007 for the album The Joni Letters

The first video contains Joni Mitchell's original artwork for the cover of her album, "Hissing on Summer Lawns." She engages Burundi drummers to portray the line between the urban skyline of New York and the jungles of the world which are the source of hallucenogenic drugs such as opium from the jungles of Thailand and cocaine from hills of Colombia. We see six Africans carrying a huge snake into the city just as the flow of illicit drugs reach the urban centres of the world.

In Cohen's "The Jungle Line", he reads the Joni Mitchell composition to American jazz icon, Herbie Hancock's piano arrangement. Originally, Joni Mitchell used a field recording from Africa to create the rhyhthm for her homage to French Post-Impressionist painter, Henri Rousseau. She blends details of his work with imagery of modern city life ("the jungle"), the music industry ("the brass like mouthpiece spit") and the underground drug culture ("the poppy"). This song is a fascinating study of literary tropes.

Herbie Hancock's, "River: The Joni Letters" achieved wide acclaim in the jazz world. Hancock received the 2008 Grammy Award for Album of the Year, only the second jazz album to win the award since Getz/Gilberto's album featuring the hit single "The Girl From Ipanema."










The Jungle Line

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

in a low-cut blouse she brings the beer
Rousseau paints a jungle flower behind her ear
those cannibals of shuck-and-jive
they'll eat a working girl like her alive
with his hard-edged eye and his steady hand
he paints the cellar full of ferns and orchid vines
and he hangs a moon above the five-piece band
he hangs it up above the jungle line

the jungle line. the jungle line
screaming in a ritual of sound and time
floating, drifting on the air-conditioned wind
and drooling for a taste of something smuggled in
pretty women funneled through valves and smoke
coy and bitchy, wild and fine
and charging elephants and chanting slaving boats
charging, chanting down the jungle line

there's a poppy wreath on a soldier's tomb
there's a poppy snake in the dressing room
poppy poison-poppy tourniquet
it slithers away on brass like mouthpiece spit
and metal skin and ivory birds
go steaming up to Rousseau's vines
they go steaming up to Brooklyn Bridge
steaming, steaming, steaming up the jungle line



songwriter: Joni Mitchell

performed by: Leonard Cohen and Herbie Hancock

date released: 1975 by Joni Mitchell; re-released by Leonard Cohen and Herbie Hancock in 2007 for the album The Joni Letters

The first video contains Joni Mitchell's original artwork for the cover of her album, "Hissing on Summer Lawns." She engages Burundi drummers to portray the line between the urban skyline of New York and the jungles of the world which are the source of hallucenogenic drugs such as opium from the jungles of Thailand and cocaine from hills of Colombia. We see six Africans carrying a huge snake into the city just as the flow of illicit drugs reach the urban centres of the world.

In Cohen's "The Jungle Line", he reads the Joni Mitchell composition to American jazz icon, Herbie Hancock's piano arrangement. Originally, Joni Mitchell used a field recording from Africa to create the rhyhthm for her homage to French Post-Impressionist painter, Henri Rousseau. She blends details of his work with imagery of modern city life ("the jungle"), the music industry ("the brass like mouthpiece spit") and the underground drug culture ("the poppy"). This song is a fascinating study of literary tropes.

Herbie Hancock's, "River: The Joni Letters" achieved wide acclaim in the jazz world. Hancock received the 2008 Grammy Award for Album of the Year, only the second jazz album to win the award since Getz/Gilberto's album featuring the hit single "The Girl From Ipanema."










+6 -1
Quiz #: 3467
Leonard Cohen and jazz pianist Herbie Hancock team up to interpret Joni Mitchell's poetry
Quiz by: Sharon Michiko Yoneda
High Intermediate

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