On Jan. 17, 1974, Joni Mitchell’s Court and Spark was released. The album, her sixth, was praised by critics and extremely popular with core fans and her newfound fans. Court and Spark would go to #2 on the Billboard Top LP’s & Tape chart.
The album continued in the vein of Mitchell’s folk tradition, but her songs were infused with a new musical discovery in Mitchell’s life (which became a passion for her): jazz. On this album, Mitchell has fewer songs using musicians from the Laurel Canyon folk-rock scene and surrounded herself with jazz musicians, including saxophonist Tom Scott and his band the L.A. Express (guitarist Larry Carlton, drummer John Guerin, bassist Max Bennett and keyboardist Joe Sample).
Lyrically, her songs were poignant, poetic and at times outright humorous. They were less introspective and more about the characters and characteristics of life, love and the relationships she observed around her.
Court and Spark generated three singles on the Billboard Hot 100: “Raised on Robbery” (which went to #65), “Help Me” (#7, her only Top 10 single) and “Free Man in Paris” (#22).