Friday, March 29, 2013

111 Court and Spark. Joni gets Jazzy

Album: Court and Spark
Artist: Joni Mitchell
Year: 1974
Genre: Folk

  1. Court and Spark
  2. Help Me
  3. Free Man in Paris
  4. People's Parties
  5. Same Situation
  6. Car on a Hill
  7. Down to You
  8. Just Like This Train
  9. Raised on Robbery
  10. Trouble Child
  11. Twisted
There is story that Joni Mitchell is fond of telling in which she played this album to Bob Dylan and label head David Geffen in order to see what the two great men thought of her latest effort. She was extremely annoyed to find Bob fell fast asleep, although sometimes when she tells the tale she claims Bob was only faking sleep in order to prove a point. I know I idolize Dylan to a point that might be considered hero worship but I have to confess I can kind of see his point. Whether or not he was playing games or was genuinely snoozing it's hard not to consider this album a bit of a snore.

I know I'm supposed to like Joni Mitchell. She's one of those people I'm supposed to revere as a genius but as the years progress it's easier to see her as a bit of a cranky and bitter old dear whose time has passed. Lately she seems more and more annoyed with everyone who isn't her and less pleased with a world who regards her as belonging to another era. Her vicious attacks on her contemporaries and modern artists make her look like a grump and while it doesn't make me approach her work with any preconceived desire to hate her it certainly removes the goodwill that I might find in hearing the work of a legend.

Court and Spark shows Joni's attempt to mix her folk roots with a rock and jazz feel and I just don't think it succeeds either way. I find Joni's voice really suits some songs (Both Sides Now most notably) but on every track on Court and Spark it's a bit too distracting and take me away from the songwriting. It's too laden with the Mitchell quirk for me to really enjoy. I've hunted down some of the songs as covers by other artists and found them really hard to get into as well. It's like the songs were written for her to be a bit Joni on and without her Joniness they don't hold up well. But then if Joni being Joni doesn't do it for you (or even worse, gets on your nerves) it's never going to be anything you can appreciate.

I'd really like to like this. A lot of people I really like (Crosby, Nash, Robertson etc) are all over it but I just can't enjoy anything here. I might not have Dylan's musical ability, way with words or general cool but at least I know he and I share one thing in common: we both find Court and Spark sleep inducing.

Highlight: Free Man in Paris
Lowlight: Down to You

Influenced by: Dylan
Influenced: Dylan (although it influenced him to have a nap)

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "'Court and Spark' is totally relatable, a gift to humanity; Jesus died on the cross, Joni Mitchell gave us 'court and spark' (and blue)."

-Wow. I've read some pretty impressive comparisons on Amazon but comparing an album to Jesus dying on the cross is definitely the biggest.

So is this sparky or not something you can get court up in? Let me know below.

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