On first listening, Joni Mitchell's Court And Spark … sounds surprisingly light; by the third or fourth listening, it reveals its underlying tensions. The lyrics lead us through concentric circles that define an almost Zen-like dilemma: The freer the writer becomes, the more unhappy she finds herself; the more she surrenders her freedom, the less willing she is to accept the resulting compromise. Joni Mitchell seems destined to remain in a state of permanent dissatisfaction—always knowing what she would like to do, always more depressed when it's done.
Joni Mitchell has composed few songs of unambivalent feeling. Even her most minimal work suggests a need for change and skepticism about...
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