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Rock Hall Anniversary: Joni Mitchell’s Court and Spark

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 28: Recording artist Joni Mitchell performs during the Thelonious Monk Jazz Tribute Concert For Herbie Hancock at the Kodak Theatre on October 28, 2007 in Los Angeles, California.
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

1974 would be a pinnacle year for Joni Mitchell. In January of that year, she released her sixth studio album Court and Spark. The second released through David Geffen’s Asylum Records (following 1972’s For the Roses), it would be Mitchell most successful album, selling over two million copies, and topping the Canadian charts, while peaking at number two on the US charts (held off by Bob Dylan’s Planet Waves, The Way We Were Soundtrack, and John Denver’s Greatest Hits).

Musically, Court and Spark forecasted a change in Mitchell’s music, where she began incorporating jazz elements into her folk and rock sound, recruiting jazz-pop band the L.A. Express as her backing group. Sessions of the album carried out mostly through 1973, a time where Mitchell was developing her growing interest in new sounds. that period resulted in the eleven tracks, that would introduce Mitchell’s new combination of folk rock and jazz elements including “Help Me” (Mitchell’s first and only top ten single), “Down to You”, “Free Man in Paris”, and “Raised on Robbery”.

In addition to being her biggest commercial success, Court and Spark would also be another critical triumph for Mitchell, embraced by critics upon its release, having being named “Album of the Year” in Village Voice, and earning four Grammy nominations including Album and Record of the Year (winning in Best Arrangement for “Down to You”). The critical embrace continued over the years, as it was named one of the top 200 greatest albums of all time from Rolling Stone, and was named one of the 1001 albums to hear before one’s passing.

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