When Doves Cry Prince: The Story Behind the Iconic Song

When you hear the name Prince, many things might come to mind: his flamboyant style, his dynamic stage presence, or his impressive musical talents. But perhaps one of his most iconic achievements was the creation of the hit song “When Doves Cry.” Released in 1984 as a single from the album “Purple Rain,” the song quickly rose to the top of the charts and became an instant classic. However, what many people might not know is the story behind its creation – the emotional turmoil that inspired the lyrics, the innovative approach to production, and the unique sound that set it apart from other pop songs of the time. In this post, we’ll explore the fascinating history of “When Doves Cry” and examine its lasting impact on music and pop culture.


When you think of iconic songs from the 1980s, “When Doves Cry” by Prince is likely to be one of the first that comes to mind. This hit song dominated the billboard charts and won numerous awards, but its impact goes far beyond just its commercial success.

At its core, “When Doves Cry” is a song about love and loss, inspired by Prince’s own childhood experiences with his parents’ divorce. This emotional turmoil is reflected in the powerful lyrics and haunting melody of the song.

But what truly sets “When Doves Cry” apart is its unconventional music production. The decision to omit a bassline was a bold move, yet it paid off by creating a unique sound that captivated listeners. This innovative approach to music production has since become a hallmark of Prince’s work.

Over the years, “When Doves Cry” has continued to influence pop culture, from being featured in movies and TV shows to inspiring new generations of musicians. Its legacy serves as a testament to the enduring power of Prince’s artistry.

In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the making and impact of “When Doves Cry”, exploring the inspiration behind the song, the recording and production process, as well as its lasting influence on music and popular culture. So sit back, relax, and prepare to be transported back to the unforgettable era of 80s pop music.

The Making of When Doves Cry

Prince’s Inspiration for When Doves Cry

Prince’s Inspiration for When Doves Cry

When Doves Cry is a song that many people can relate to, with its raw and emotional lyrics. However, few know that the inspiration behind the song came from Prince’s own tumultuous childhood experiences.

Growing up, Prince’s parents went through a bitter divorce that left him feeling lost and alone. As a child, he struggled to come to terms with the fact that his parents no longer loved each other, and this emotional turmoil is reflected in the lyrics of the song.

In interviews, Prince has spoken about how the experience of his parents’ divorce affected him deeply, and how it continued to influence his music throughout his career. He once said that “When Doves Cry was written at a time when I needed to release something very badly.”

The lyrics of the song speak to the pain and confusion that many children of divorce feel, with lines like “Maybe I’m just too demanding” and “How can you just leave me standing?” Prince’s use of metaphors such as doves crying and water running dry only add to the haunting quality of the song.

Despite the difficult emotions behind the song, When Doves Cry remains one of Prince’s most beloved hits. Its enduring popularity is a testament to the power of music to connect with people on a deep and emotional level.

In conclusion, Prince’s childhood experiences, including his parents’ divorce and his emotional turmoil, played a significant role in inspiring the lyrics of When Doves Cry. The raw emotion of the song continues to resonate with fans today, and stands as a testament to Prince’s incredible talent as a songwriter.

Recording and Production

Recording and Production

When Prince set out to create his iconic hit “When Doves Cry,” he took an innovative approach to music production that would ultimately result in a completely unique sound.

One of the most striking features of “When Doves Cry” is the absence of a bassline. This was a deliberate decision made by Prince, who felt it would make the song stand out and add to its overall impact. Instead of relying on a traditional bassline, Prince used synthesized sounds and layered guitar riffs to create a multi-dimensional effect that was both haunting and beautiful.

In addition to the lack of a bassline, Prince also experimented with other unconventional recording techniques. For example, he recorded multiple guitar parts and layered them on top of each other, creating a complex, swirling sound that was unlike anything heard before. He also incorporated unusual percussion elements, such as finger snaps and handclaps, to add texture and depth to the track.

Despite the many unique aspects of “When Doves Cry,” Prince still managed to keep the overall production tight and focused. His attention to detail and commitment to his vision paid off in a big way, with the song becoming one of the biggest hits of his career.

In conclusion, Prince’s decision to forego a traditional bassline and use innovative recording techniques resulted in a truly unique sound for “When Doves Cry.” By incorporating layered guitars and unconventional percussion, he was able to create a multi-dimensional effect that captivated listeners and helped establish him as a true musical genius.

Impact of When Doves Cry

Billboard Charts and Awards Won

When “When Doves Cry” was released in 1984, it quickly became a sensation, topping the Billboard Hot 100 chart for five weeks straight. In fact, it was such a runaway success that it remained Prince’s only number one hit single throughout his career.

But that wasn’t the end of its accolades. The song was also nominated for two Grammy Awards in 1985: Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Male and Best R&B Song. Although it didn’t win either award, the nominations alone were a testament to the song’s far-reaching appeal.

Aside from the Grammys, “When Doves Cry” also earned other honors over the years. In 2011, it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, which recognizes recordings that have “qualitative or historical significance.” The song’s innovative sound and impact on popular music certainly fit the bill.

Beyond these formal recognition, however, “When Doves Cry” has left its mark on pop culture in countless ways. Its influence can be heard in the work of artists across genres, from hip-hop to indie rock, and has been covered by everyone from Patti Smith to the Foo Fighters.

As we look back on the enduring legacy of “When Doves Cry,” it’s clear that its place in music history is secure. It remains a classic example of Prince’s undeniable talent and his ability to push the boundaries of what pop music could be.

Musical and Pop Culture Influence

Musical and Pop Culture Influence

When “Purple Rain”, the album that features “When Doves Cry,” was released in 1984, it quickly became clear that Prince had reinvented pop music. His innovative sound combined elements of funk, rock, and R&B, breaking down genre barriers and paving the way for future artists.

Prince’s approach to music also revolutionized music videos. He understood the power of visual storytelling and incorporated cinematic techniques into his videos. The video for “When Doves Cry” is a perfect example of this, with its moody lighting, surreal imagery, and intricate choreography.

His impact on music videos extended beyond just the visuals. He utilized their potential as promotional tools by creating short films that told a cohesive story across multiple songs. This approach was a precursor to the modern concept of visual albums.

The influence of Prince’s musical and visual innovations can be seen in the work of countless artists who came after him. From Justin Timberlake to Bruno Mars, many have cited Prince as one of their biggest inspirations.

In conclusion, Prince’s unique approach to music and music videos not only influenced the pop culture of his time but also set the standard for generations to come. His creativity and innovation continue to inspire artists today, and his legacy will undoubtedly endure for years to come.


In conclusion, When Doves Cry by Prince is undoubtedly one of the most iconic songs in pop music history. Its unique sound, innovative production techniques, and emotional lyrics have stood the test of time and continue to inspire artists today.

Prince’s childhood experiences and parents’ divorce played a significant role in inspiring the song’s theme of emotional turmoil and heartbreak. By choosing not to include a bassline, Prince created a signature sound that set the song apart from others and showcased his musical genius.

When Doves Cry’s impact on pop culture cannot be overstated. It topped the Billboard charts for weeks and earned numerous awards and nominations, including Grammy nominations. The song also paved the way for music videos, as Prince’s groundbreaking video for the song became an instant classic and influenced generations of artists.

Overall, When Doves Cry is a testament to Prince’s artistic talent and creative vision. Its legacy continues to live on and will undoubtedly inspire future generations of musicians and music lovers.
When Doves Cry by Prince is an iconic song that has stood the test of time, remaining a favorite among music enthusiasts around the world. This hit song was more than just a chart-topping success, it was an innovative creation that revolutionized pop music and set new standards for the industry. Through Prince’s unique sound, innovative approach to music production, and thought-provoking lyrics, When Doves Cry became a timeless classic with a lasting impact on pop culture.

As we look back on the making of this song, we are reminded of the emotional turmoil and childhood experiences that inspired Prince’s musical genius. The absence of a bassline and the absence of a conventional structure in this song proved to be a daring move on his part, but one that paid off. It is no surprise that When Doves Cry earned numerous nominations and awards and topped the charts both nationally and internationally.

Prince’s influence on pop music lives on even after his passing, and When Doves Cry remains an important piece of his legacy. The song’s evolution from inspiration to recording to its impact on pop culture serves as a reminder of the power of a single piece of music to change the world around us.

In conclusion, When Doves Cry is more than just a hit song – it is a work of art that continues to inspire and captivate audiences today. From its unique sound to its thought-provoking lyrics and cultural impact, When Doves Cry is an unforgettable masterpiece that will continue to stand the test of time.

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