Hannah Cameron
Hannah Cameron | Photo by Nick Mckk

Love Letter to a Record: Hannah Cameron on Joni Mitchell’s ‘Court and Spark’

Music Feeds’ Love Letter to a Record series asks artists to reflect on their relationship with the music they love and share stories about how it has influenced their lives. Naarm/Melbourne musician Hannah Cameron gives kudos to Joni Mitchell’s sixth album, Court and Spark, released in 1974.

Hannah Cameron’s new album, Holding Pattern, is an intimately personal collection of songs rooted in Cameron’s desire to snap out of the behavioural stasis that inspired the album title. Holding Pattern includes the singles ‘Take the Blame’, ‘Smells Like Leaving’, ‘The Wrong Way’ and ‘Haiku Song’ – watch the video for the latter at the bottom of this page.

Hannah Cameron’s love letter to Court and Spark

Hannah Cameron: Dear Court and Spark,

Ours was a slow burn romance. You were always on the periphery, obscured by your shinier, more objectively accessible counterparts. I remember listening to you when I was 17 and to be honest, I just didn’t get you. There were sounds that felt foreign and uncool to my adolescent ear. I was put off by the bendiness of your world. The fretless bass, the pedal steel, the warbly, out of tune harmonies. I just wanted an acoustic guitar and a piano. Blame it on my youth.

We met again a few years later. By then I was in my early 20s and had just finished three years of jazz school. I heard you at a party and I remember thinking you were cooler than I recalled. But the timing wasn’t right. I was just coming to terms with wanting to be a folk singer and not a jazz singer. You felt a part of a world that I was trying to move away from. If you were a person and not an album, maybe it would be like that moment in the movie where the protagonist realises that they have feelings for the romantic interest just as they get engaged/move overseas/sleep with their best friend. (I am not sure if I am the protagonist or the romantic interest, but I don’t think it matters.)

I kept spending time with Blue and Clouds and Ladies of the Canyon. All masterpieces in their own right, of course. I suppose you could say they were my first loves, my formative relationships. They taught me about longing and sadness and melody and phrasing and the capacity for expressing the vast spectrum of human emotion.

There is that saying about love and timing. I can never remember how it goes or who wrote it but I do think I believe it. Not to be cheesy, but I think each of those albums was guiding me to you. And so, finally, about five years later, I put you on and there was a feeling of recognition.

Your melodies felt familiar in a way they hadn’t before and the sonic world that had felt so alienating to me as a teenager now felt refreshing. You talked about love and I thought, “That’s how I feel about love!”. There was this sense that you didn’t trust it entirely but you still believed in it. You were a skeptic and a romantic and you somehow made it feel like the two weren’t mutually exclusive. You still sang about longing and sadness but there was wisdom and humour as well, and I felt in on the joke. And my getting the joke made me feel that maybe I was getting a bit wise as well.

When I listen now, as I still often do, I am in love with all of these things, but mainly I am in love with your boldness. I listen and I hope that some of that boldness rubs off on me. I listen to the warbly, out of tune harmonies and I smile every time. There is no instrument or computer on this earth that could make a sound like that. It is wild and flawed and human. Which is what music should be. I forget this sometimes and I love you for reminding me.

Love, Hannah x

Hannah Cameron – ‘Haiku Song’

Further Reading

Hannah Cameron Announces New Album ‘Holding Pattern’, Shares New Single

The Artists to See at BIGSOUND 2023

Joni Mitchell Plays First Headline Show In 20 Years w/ Annie Lennox, Sarah McLachlan, and More

Must Read