Meaning of When Doves Cry by Prince & The Story Behind

“When Doves Cry” was one of the songs that Prince composed for the movie “Purple Rain”. It was written last, when the work on the picture was almost completed, and the soundtrack was almost ready for publication as a studio album. It was this unusual composition without the bass part that the musician decided to release as the first single and, as time has shown, hit the mark.

It was born in part thanks to director Albert Magnoli, who directed Purple Rain. He asked Prince to write a song that would intertwine the main character’s love relationship with a girl and difficulties in communicating with his parents. The very next day the singer brought two works, and one of them was “When Doves Cry”. According to Per Nielsen, the author was inspired by Susan Munsey from Vanity 6, with whom he was dating at the time.

The author of the composition played all the musical instruments used in the recording. After mixing the parts, he decided to remove the bass part from the composition in order to achieve an extravagant sound.

The memoirs of the sound engineer Peggy McCreary, who took part in the work on the song, are interesting:

[Prince] took the bass down and said, “No one would have the guts to do that.” And he smiled at all thirty-two. He felt this was the best thing to do and he knew he had a hit… So he decided to do something really bold. It was all about Prince.


However, the musician himself recalled that this decision to abandon the bass part was not easy for him:

Sometimes your mind kind of bifurcates: your ego says one thing and the rest of you says something else. You have to choose what you know is right.

Bass player

The same McCreary said that the process of recording a song in the studio was simply exhausting:

He drove away time after time [song] only with piano and vocals. Sometimes he would take on the drums and then the bass… Everything was set up in the room and you had to be ready to do whatever he could think of. It was truly spontaneous. You had to be with him, which was the most difficult and exciting thing. But when you’re exhausted, it’s hard to stay passionate. I have never worked with anyone for so long. I worked around the clock, twenty-four hours. Sometimes he said that he only went home so that I could sleep.


The single “When Doves Cry” with “17 Days” on the back went on sale on May 16, 1984. It spent five weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and became a hit in many other countries.

The most famous covers were recorded by Patti Smith, Damien Rice, Ginuwine and Razorlight.

Rolling Stone magazine included the song in their list of the 500 Greatest Tracks of All Time. She is also included in other authoritative ratings.

The music video for “When Doves Cry” was directed by Prince himself, using footage from the movie “Purple Rain”. The video was nominated for the MTV Video Music Awards in 1985.

Interesting Facts

  • In live versions, the song contains a bass line.
  • Prince really did not like the version of the composition performed by Ginuwine. Particularly annoyed was the fact that the American singer made changes to the lyrics.
  • An interesting cover sounds in the film “Romeo and Juliet” by Baz Luhrmann.
  • Patti Smith’s version was featured on the Lost in Translation soundtrack.

When Doves Cry Lyrics by Prince

Dig if you will the picture
Of you and I engaged in a kiss
The sweat of your body covers me
Can you my darling
Can you picture this? If you want, remember
How we kissed
We both got wet
Do you remember this? Dream if you can a courtyard
An ocean of violets in bloom
Animals strike curious poses
They feel the heat
The heat between me and you
An ocean of blooming violets
Animals frozen in curiosity
They feel the heat
The heat between me and youChorus:
How can you just leave me standing?
Alone in a world that’s so cold?
Maybe I’m just too demanding
Maybe I’m just like my father too bold
Maybe you’re just like my mother
She’s never satisfied
Why do we scream at each other
This is what it sounds like
When doves cry
How can you just leave me here?
Alone in such a cold world?
Maybe I’m just too demanding
Maybe I, like my father, am overconfident
Maybe you just look like my mother
She is always unhappy
Why are we yelling at each other?
These are the sounds
When the doves cry Touch if you will my stomach
Feel how it trembles inside
You’ve got the butterflies all tied up
Don’t make me chase you
Even doves have pride
Do you feel the shivers inside?
You tied all the butterflies
Don’t make me chase you
Even doves have pride

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