Single Stories: Prince and the Revolution, “When Doves Cry”
34 years ago today, Prince released his first single with the Revolution as his backing band and provided a generation with an instant retort to any traumatizing moment in their lives: âSo this is what it sounds like when doves cryâ¦â
Written and produced by Prince himself, âWhen Doves Cryâ was effectively penned at the behest of Albert Magnoli, director of Purple Rain, who was looking for a song to serve as the soundtrack for a particular scene. Lyrically, however, Prince biographer Per Nilsen has said that the song was inspired by Susan Moonsie, a member of Vanity 6, and Princeâs relationship with her. Whatever its origins, one thingâs for certain: it was the last tune to be written and composed for the Purple Rain soundtrack.
Also confirmed: the video for the song is awesome. (Of course it is: Prince directed it himself.)
For a song that was ostensibly handed over to Magnoli the very next day after he initially asked Prince to write something, âWhen Doves Cryâ made more waves than a tsunami: in addition to hitting #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, it also topped the magazineâs R&B Singles and Dance/Disco Singles charts. And, boy, has it aged well: itâs been included on Greatest Songs of All Time lists by Rolling Stone, Spin, and VH-1.
Trying to pick a single greatest Prince song is like trying to pick your favorite child, but if âWhen Doves Cryâ isnât at least in contention, then you should probably re-do your list.
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