Court and Spark

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Court and Spark
Studio album by
ReleasedJanuary 17, 1974
StudioA&M, Hollywood[1]
ProducerJoni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell chronology
For the Roses
Court and Spark
Miles of Aisles
Singles from Court and Spark
  1. "Raised on Robbery"
    Released: December 1973
  2. "Help Me"
    Released: March 1974
  3. "Free Man in Paris"
    Released: July 1974

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 has been described as pop, but also infuses Mitchell's folk rock style, which she had developed through 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.[4] 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.[5] In 2003 it was listed at No. 111 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[6]


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 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 and Graham Nash and even a twist of comedy from Cheech & Chong.

On December 1 Asylum Records released a single, her first in over a year, "Raised on Robbery".[7] The single reached No. 65 on the Billboard Singles Chart in February 1974.[8]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[9]
Christgau's Record GuideA[11]
Pitchfork Media10/10[10]
Paul Roland5/5 stars[15]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide5/5 stars[13]
Slant Magazine5/5 stars[14]
Martin C. Strong9/10[15]
Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music5/5 stars[15]

Released in January 1974, Court and Spark was enthusiastically embraced by critics and the public. 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 Billboard single, peaking at No.7 on the Hot 100 in the first week of June, and reaching No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

Court and Spark became a big seller that year, peaking at No.2 on the Billboard album chart[16] and staying there for four weeks. The pinnacle of Mitchell's commercial success, it was kept from the top spot by (in order) Bob Dylan's Planet Waves, Barbra Streisand's The Way We Were and John Denver's Greatest Hits.[17] However, it did top the US Cashbox and Record World charts for one week each.[18][19]

In a July 1979 interview with Cameron Crowe for Rolling Stone, Mitchell recounted playing the then-just completed Court & Spark to Bob Dylan, during which he fell asleep.[20] She later suggested that Dylan was probably trying to be "cute" in front of label boss David Geffen, who was also present.[20]

Singer Stevie Nicks recalled taking acid to the album: "I was with my producer, at his house, with a set of speakers that were taller than that fireplace, and I was in a safe place. And I sat there on the floor and listened to that record… That was a pretty dynamic experience."[21]


Grammy Awards
Year Nominee / work Award Result
1975 Court and Spark Album of the Year[26] Nominated
"Help Me" Record of the Year[27] Nominated
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance[28] Nominated
"Down to You" (arranger: Joni Mitchell and Tom Scott) Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s)[29] Won

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are 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. "Same Situation" – 2:57
Side two
  1. "Car on a Hill" – 3:02
  2. "Down to You" – 5:38
  3. "Just Like This Train" – 4:24
  4. "Raised on Robbery" – 3:06
  5. "Trouble Child" – 4:00
  6. "Twisted" (Annie Ross, Wardell Gray) – 2:21


Additional personnel

Technical personnel

  • Joni Mitchell – record producer
  • Henry Lewy and Ellis Sorkin – engineers
  • Anthony Hudson – art direction, design
  • Joni Mitchell – cover painting
  • Norman Seeff – photography

Charts and certifications[edit]


  1. ^ Bego, Mark (May 26, 2005). Joni Mitchell. ISBN 9781589792210.
  2. ^ Landau, Jon (February 28, 1974). "Review: Joni Mitchell Strikes a Delicate Balance on 'Court and Spark'".
  3. ^ Ankeny, Jason (2011). "The Hissing of Summer Lawns – Joni Mitchell | AllMusic". Retrieved July 19, 2011.
  4. ^ "Gold & Platinum – August 07, 2010". RIAA. Archived from the original on September 2, 2008. Retrieved August 8, 2010.
  5. ^ a b "The 1974 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". The Village Voice. January 20, 1975. Retrieved March 21, 2005.
  6. ^ 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 March 21, 2005.
  7. ^ "Joni Mitchell: "Raised On Robbery" (1973)". Progrography. September 16, 2019. Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  8. ^ "Joni Mitchell". Billboard. Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  9. ^ Ankeny, Jason. Court and Spark at AllMusic. Retrieved July 22, 2005.
  10. ^ "Joni Mitchell: The Studio Albums 1968–1979". Pitchfork.
  11. ^ 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
  12. ^ 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)
  13. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). "Joni Mitchell". The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. London: Fireside. p. 547. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. Retrieved August 21, 2011.
  14. ^ Walsh, Barry (September 3, 2004). "Joni Mitchell Court and Spark > Review". Slant Magazine. Retrieved June 3, 2010.
  15. ^ a b c "Joni Mitchell Court and Spark". Acclaimed Music. Archived from the original on October 14, 2013. Retrieved March 20, 2014.
  16. ^ Joni Mitchell > Court and Spark > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums at AllMusic
  17. ^ Sharon Mawer. "US number two albums". Archived from the original on April 17, 2009. Retrieved August 8, 2010.
  18. ^ "RECORD WORLD MAGAZINE: 1942 to 1982". Retrieved August 12, 2019.
  19. ^ "CASH BOX MAGAZINE: Music and coin machine magazine 1942 to 1996". Retrieved August 12, 2019.
  20. ^ a b Rolling Stone article: "The Rolling Stone Joni Mitchell Interview", by Cameron Crowe. July 26, 1979.
  21. ^ Simmons, Sylvie (May 2008). "The Q Interview". Q. No. 262. p. 112.
  22. ^ "Gold & Platinum". RIAA.
  23. ^ Colin Larkin, ed. (2000). All Time Top 1000 Albums (3rd ed.). Virgin Books. p. 79. ISBN 0-7535-0493-6.
  24. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time Rolling Stone's definitive list of the 500 greatest albums of all time". Rolling Stone. 2012. Retrieved September 19, 2019.
  25. ^ "1001 Albums you must hear before you die – The 70s".
  26. ^ "GRAMMYs' Best Albums 1970–1979". Archived from the original on March 4, 2014. Retrieved April 29, 2014.
  27. ^ "Rock On The Net: Grammy Awards: Record of the Year". Retrieved March 20, 2013.
  28. ^ "Rock On The Net: Grammy Awards: Best Pop Solo Performance". Retrieved February 2, 2014.
  29. ^ "Past Winners Search". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Retrieved April 29, 2014.
  30. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  31. ^ "Top Albums/CDs – Volume 21, No. 7". RPM. March 30, 1974. Archived from the original (PHP) on April 29, 2014. Retrieved April 29, 2014.
  32. ^ " – Joni Mitchell – Court and Spark". Hung Medien. Retrieved April 7, 2021.
  33. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 7, 2021.
  34. ^ "Joni Mitchell Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved April 7, 2021.
  35. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1974". RPM. Archived from the original on April 29, 2014. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  36. ^ "Billboard.BIZ Top Pop Albums of 1974". Archived from the original on December 31, 2012. Retrieved April 28, 2014.
  37. ^ "American album certifications – Joni Mitchell – Court &". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved September 22, 2011. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.