Song of the Day #4,616: ‘Help Me’ – Joni Mitchell

Continuing my exploration of Joni Mitchell’s career, I’ve arrived at her sixth album, 1974’s classic Court and Spark. This remains Mitchell’s most popular album. It reached #1 in her native Canada and #2 in the United States.

This is also the first album where Mitchell utilizes the vocal tic that long turned me off of her music. On several of these tracks, she slides her voice in a way that reminds me of Dory’s whalespeak in Finding Nemo and totally loses me.

It’s funny how the first Mitchell album I’ve resisted is her most famous, similar to my new appreciation of the Eagles save for Hotel California.

The parts of Court and Spark that don’t get vocally cringey are quite good, with her increasing interest in jazz fusing nicely with her folk/pop sensibility. This is a confident, creative and fun album.

After a week where Mitchell could do no wrong, I’m not thrilled to feel let down by an album considered by many her best. But I’m hoping the vocals here aren’t typical of the rest of her discography.

That said, today’s SOTD — ‘Help Me’ — is a brilliant song, and her biggest hit (it made it to #7 on Billboard’s Hot 100, her only top ten showing). The first time I heard about this track was when Prince name-drops (and sings) it in his wonderful ‘Ballad of Dorothy Parker.’

[Verse 1]
Help me, I think I’m falling in love again
When I get that crazy feeling, I know I’m in trouble again
I’m in trouble ’cause you’re a rambler and a gambler
And a sweet taIking ladies man and you love your lovin’
But not like you love your freedom

[Verse 2]
Help me, I think I’m falling in love too fast
It’s got me hoping for the future and worrying about the past
‘Cause I’ve seen some hot hot blazes
Come down to smoke and ash
We love our lovin’ but not like we love our freedom

[Verse 3]
Didn’t it feel good, we were sitting there talking
Or lying there not talking, didn’t it feel good
You dance with the lady with the hole in her stocking
Didn’t it feel good
Didn’t it feel good

[Verse 4]
Help me, I think I’m falling in love with you
Are you going to let me go there by myself
That’s such a lonely thing to do
Both of us flirting around flirting and flirting, hurting too
We love our lovin’ but not like we love our freedom

4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,616: ‘Help Me’ – Joni Mitchell

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    This is the album of Mitchell of which I am most familiar, partially because of today’s hit SOTD, partially because my sister often played it when I was a kid and partially because it became my first and only Mitchell CD in my music collection in college.

    I was hoping that, with this deep dive, you would realize you were unnecessarily turned off by Mitchell’s signature sliding vocal style (and, yes, it’s an intentional jazzy slide, not a vocal tic), but, much like you can’t seem to get past Henley’s clipped vocal style on “Hotel California,” some pet peeves never fade.

    That sliding vocal style, by the way, serves songs like the wonderful “Free Man in Paris” quite well.

  2. Peg says:

    So just what is a sliding vocal style?

  3. andrea katz says:

    One of my favorite lyrics is “are you going to let me go there by myself? That’s such a lonely thing to do. The jewel in this today for me is The Ballad of Dorothy parker which was utterly delightful. Who knew that prince and I shared a love for her urbane, wry wit and light verse?
    (She runs the gamut of emotions from A to B))

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