Court and Spark

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Court and Spark
Studio album by
ReleasedJanuary 17, 1974
StudioA&M Studios, Hollywood[1]
ProducerJoni Mitchell, Henry Lewy
Joni Mitchell chronology
For the Roses
Court and Spark
Miles of Aisles

Court and Spark is the sixth studio album by Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell. It was an immediate commercial and critical success—and remains her most successful album. Released in January 1974, it infuses her folk rock style, which she developed throughout her previous five albums, with jazz inflections.

It reached No. 2 in the United States and No. 1 in Canada and eventually received a Double Platinum certification by the RIAA, the highest of Mitchell's career.[5] It also reached the Top 20 in the UK and was voted the best album of the year for 1974 in The Village Voice Pazz & Jop Critics Poll.[6] In 2003 it was listed at #111 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[7]


1973 was the first year since she began recording that Mitchell did not release a new album. Her previous offering, For the Roses, was released in November 1972 to critical and commercial success, and Mitchell decided to spend the whole of the next year writing and recording a new album that revealed her growing interest in new sounds—particularly jazz. During 1973, her stage appearances were fewer than in previous years. She performed in April in a benefit concert at the Sir George Williams University Auditorium and then appeared live again in August, twice at The Corral Club, accompanied by Neil Young.

Mitchell spent most of 1973 in the recording studio creating Court and Spark. Mitchell and producer/engineer Henry Lewy called in a number of top L.A. musicians to perform on the album including members of The Crusaders, Tom Scott's L.A. Express, cameos from Robbie Robertson, David Crosby & Graham Nash and even a twist of comedy from Cheech & Chong.

In December, Asylum Records released a single, her first in over a year, "Raised on Robbery". The single reached No. 65 on the Billboard Singles Chart.


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[8]
Christgau's Record GuideA[10]
Pitchfork Media10/10[9]
Paul Roland5/5 stars[14]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide5/5 stars[12]
Slant Magazine5/5 stars[13]
Martin C. Strong9/10[14]
Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music5/5 stars[14]

Court and Spark was released in January 1974. Critics and the public enthusiastically embraced the album, and its success was reaffirmed when the follow-up single, "Help Me", was released in March. It received heavy radio airplay and became Mitchell's first and only Top 10 single in the Billboard charts, peaking at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the first week of June, and reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts. Court and Spark went on to be a big seller that year, peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard album charts[15] and staying there for four weeks. The album became the pinnacle of Mitchell's commercial success. The album was kept from the top spot by three No. 1 albums—in order Bob Dylan's Planet Waves, Barbra Streisand's The Way We Were and John Denver's Greatest Hits.[16]

In a July 1979 interview with Cameron Crowe for Rolling Stone, Mitchell recounted an anecdote of when she had played a copy of the then-just completed Court & Spark to Bob Dylan, during which Dylan fell asleep.[17] Mitchell later suggested that Dylan was probably trying to be "cute" in front of label boss David Geffen, who was also present.[17]


Grammy Awards
Year Nominee / work Award Result
1975 Court and Spark Album of the Year[19] Nominated
"Help Me" Record of the Year[20] Nominated
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance[21] Nominated
"Down to You" (arranger: Joni Mitchell and Tom Scott) Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s)[22] Won

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Joni Mitchell, except where noted.

Side one
1."Court and Spark"2:46
2."Help Me"3:22
3."Free Man in Paris"3:02
4."People's Parties"2:15
5."The Same Situation"2:57
Side two
6."Car on a Hill" 3:02
7."Down to You" 5:38
8."Just Like This Train" 4:24
9."Raised on Robbery" 3:06
10."Trouble Child" 4:00
11."Twisted"Annie Ross, Wardell Gray2:21


  • Joni Mitchell – vocals, including background; acoustic guitar; piano; clavinet on "Down to You"
  • Tom Scott – woodwinds, reeds
  • Joe Sampleelectric piano; clavinet on "Raised on Robbery"
  • Larry Carlton – electric guitar (on all tracks except "Car on a Hill", "Raised on Robbery" and "Trouble Child")
  • Max Bennett – bass guitar (on all tracks except "Free Man in Paris", "People's Parties" and "Trouble Child")
  • John Guerin – drums, percussion
  • Joni Mitchell and Henry Lewy - producers
  • Henry Lewy and Ellis Sorkin - engineers
  • Anthony Hudson - art direction, design
  • Joni Mitchell – cover painting
  • Norman Seeff - photography



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  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Ankeny, Jason (2011). "The Hissing of Summer Lawns – Joni Mitchell | AllMusic". Retrieved 19 July 2011.
  5. ^ "Gold & Platinum – August 07, 2010". RIAA. Archived from the original on September 2, 2008. Retrieved August 8, 2010.
  6. ^ a b "The 1974 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". The Village Voice. January 20, 1975. Retrieved Mar 21, 2005.
  7. ^ a b Levy, Joe; Steven Van Zandt (2006) [2005]. "111 | Court and Spark – Joni Mitchell". Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (3rd ed.). London: Turnaround. ISBN 1-932958-61-4. OCLC 70672814. Retrieved Mar 21, 2005.
  8. ^ Ankeny, Jason. Court and Spark at AllMusic. Retrieved July 22, 2005.
  9. ^ "Joni Mitchell: The Studio Albums 1968–1979" at
  10. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: M". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 8, 2019 – via
  11. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds) (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 769. ISBN 1-57859-061-2.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  12. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). "Joni Mitchell". The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. London: Fireside. p. 547. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. Retrieved 21 August 2011.
  13. ^ Walsh, Barry (September 3, 2004). "Joni Mitchell Court and Spark > Review". Slant Magazine. Retrieved Jun 3, 2010.
  14. ^ a b c "Joni Mitchell Court and Spark". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved 2014-03-20.
  15. ^ Joni Mitchell > Court and Spark > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums at AllMusic
  16. ^ Sharon Mawer. "US number two albums". Archived from the original on April 17, 2009. Retrieved August 8, 2010.
  17. ^ a b Rolling Stone article: "The Rolling Stone Joni Mitchell Interview", by Cameron Crowe. July 26, 1979.
  18. ^ Super Seventies. Court and Spark: Joni Mitchell.. Retrieved February 27, 2009.
  19. ^ "GRAMMYs' Best Albums 1970–1979". Archived from the original on March 4, 2014. Retrieved 2014-04-29.
  20. ^ "Rock On The Net: Grammy Awards: Record of the Year". Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  21. ^ "Rock On The Net: Grammy Awards: Best Pop Solo Performance". Retrieved 2014-02-02.
  22. ^ "Past Winners Search". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 2014-04-29.
  23. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  24. ^ "Top Albums/CDs - Volume 21, No. 7" (PHP). RPM. 1974-03-30. Retrieved 2014-04-29.
  25. ^ " Joni Mitchell – Court and Spark" (ASP). Retrieved 2014-04-29.
  26. ^ "Joni Mitchell > Artists > Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 2014-04-28.
  27. ^ "Allmusic: Court and Spark : Charts & Awards". Retrieved 2014-04-28.
  28. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1974". RPM. Retrieved 2011-10-03.
  29. ^ "Billboard.BIZ Top Pop Albums of 1974". Archived from the original on December 31, 2012. Retrieved 2014-04-28.
  30. ^ "American album certifications – Joni Mitchell – Court and Spark". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2011-09-22. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.