I saw Joni Mitchell at a Live and Interactive concert at Much Music in the 90s. It was a dream to be so close to someone as important to me as Mr. Bach. She played a classic Car On A Hill. I was about 20 feet away, got clobbered over the head with a whole other reason to admire her, the realization I incorrectly credited the arrangement to the guys. Court and Spark is filled with guts and magic like the moment in the 5th Element when the Mondoshawans arrive at the pyramids and waddle over to save the universe.
For years I thought the first person Free Man In Paris was her point of view until somewhere it was said it was about David Geffen which made a whole other clearer meaning. In Court and Spark so much is inspiring and beautiful that I avoid listening to it, best to keep exposure limited then it can be savoured and occasionally might find a surprise. Like that time 2 years ago I heard trombones in the bass line of Hey Jude on the White Album, shoot me now.
There are two tricks in song design on Court and Spark that always play fresh. New melodies for background vocals and new instrumental motifs between verse sections. Usually in background vocals people harmonize with the lead but she made new melodies as the background vocal then harmonized specifically to them. The results are like another singing group more unique colour than a harmony in parallel motion to the lead voice. And the new instrumental motifs – after a verse ends instead of starting the next verse on the next downbeat an electric guitar or a flute go off on a tangent, just a little bit of new chords felt organically before returning to start the next verse. The surprise of introducing new instrumental chords stands out I assumed other musicians brought to the party until I saw her solo at Much Muzak and realized it was her arrangement all along. Her guitar was just mixed lower than the flute or horns when in fact they were playing along to her part.
A small step for song a giant leap for song-kind.