When Doves Cry (5:55)

Cover of Purple Rain

From Purple Rain and 51 other releases

“When Doves Cry” is a song by the American musician Prince, and the lead single from his 1984 album Purple Rain. Released on 9 June 1984, it was a worldwide hit and his first American number one single, topping charts for five weeks. According to Billboard magazine, it was the top-selling single of the year.

According to the Purple Rain DVD, Prince was asked by the director to write a song to match the theme of a particular segment of the film - one which involved intermingled parental difficulties and a love affair. The next morning, Prince had reportedly composed two songs, one of which was “When Doves Cry”.

The song was #1 in the US for five weeks, from 07/07/1984 - 08/04/1984. It kept the other big hit of that summer, Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark”, from reaching the top spot. “When Doves Cry” was voted as the best single of the year in The Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics’ poll. Billboard ranked it as the #1 single of 1984; however, on American Top 40 it was ranked as the number two song of the year as AT40 did not use Billboard’s rankings that year.

The B-side was the cult fan favourite “17 Days”, which was originally intended for the Apollonia 6 album. A 12-inch single issued in the UK included the album track, “17 Days”, and two tracks from Prince’s previous album, 1999, namely the title track and “D.M.S.R.”

Prince wrote and composed “When Doves Cry” after all the other tracks on Purple Rain were complete. In addition to vocals, he also played all instruments on the track. The song’s texture is remarkably stark. There is no bass line at all, which is very unusual for a dance song; Prince has said that there originally was a bass line, but decided that the song was too conventional with it intact.

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