I've spent the last few days listening to Joni Mitchell's Court And Spark and trying to explain to myself why I gets me the way it does.
Most of the celebrated albums have one song that encapsulates their appeal. Most of those songs have a bit within them that in turn sums them up. With this record it's "Free Man In Paris", the song she wrote about David Geffen, the man who owned her record company, getting away from his work in Hollywood and having a holiday in Paris. She visited the city with Geffen and Robbie Robertson in the early 70s.
The bit is the middle eight. "If I had my way I'd just walk through those doors and wander down the Champs Elysees...."
The words tumble towards the two syllables of "wander" (which is barely a letter away from "wonder") which she extends into three and a half and then holds. As she does so you're rushing through the revolving door of that posh hotel lobby and into the Parisian sunshine with her. At that point the entire record opens up. You can listen to it below.