Monday, August 20, 2007

No. 111: Court And Spark

Band: Joni Mitchell
Album: Court And Spark
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Joni Mitchell's introspective songwriting is nice and "Court and Spark" is her best record. Yielding her only top ten hit and some of her most celebrated songs, the album is filled with good songs.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: Adult comtemporary/'70s FM radio is not my favorite type of music. Mitchell basically works in that realm.
Best song: The title track is really good.
Worst song: The only non-brilliant songs on the album is "Sulk."
Is it awesome?: It's pretty good, but, not great.

Let's talk about Canada for a minute. I think of Canada in a lot of the same ways that I think of Wisconsin. Kathleen Madigan, a pretty funny St. Louis comedian, has a line in her act wherein she called Canada "like America's attic. You forget about it, but when you go up there, you realize there's a lot of cool shit there." People are more polite. They have a lot more wildlife. That sort of thing (In this example, the U.S. is to Chicago as Canada is to Wisconsin).

Joni Mitchell is Canadian, so, that's the only reason to bring up Canada. In fact, she has been ordained an "Order of Canada," whatever that means. That and the fact that she gloriously mispronounces "Champs-Élysées," which is always surprising from Canadians. A lot of them speak French, right?


We've already gone through my general thoughts on Joni Mitchell. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned my feeling on female singers, as well (if not, I prefer female singers to male singers). Still, I find Mitchell's music mostly boring.

As someone who's not necessarily a "lyric guy," I don't find Mitchell as impressive as everyone else does. Still, "Court And Spark" is much more interesting, as the second side of the album takes a great deal from jazz in its soft intricacy. "Just This Train" is based around a nice guitar riff and an easy rhythm section. The time changes are nice change the the folk boring-ness that occupies much of the rest of the record.

"Raised on Robbery" is a strange record in that it's based on an old timey rock and roll song (honky tonk, maybe?), but it's a storytelling lyric about a man at a bar who is approached by a hooker. It's an odd choice, but a decent song and certainly, different.

Lyrically, it is a nice record, but I can't get past her voice. Mitchell has been called the "female Dylan," and she shuns that title, rightfully. "Being female creates a new category in some people's minds. No one would say that Dylan is the 'male Joni Mitchell,'" she has said and she's right.

Overall, it's a fine record, but another filed in the "good, but not great" category.

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