Without a doubt, “When Doves Cry” is one of the best singles (and songs) of the 1980s. It sounds conventional because it’s been played so many times, but a dance-hall track that starts out with a guitar, has no bass-line, not to mention the key-board solo near the end of the song, is anything but conventional.
The theme behind “When Doves Cry” is also conventional (love gone bad) but Prince delivers it in such a conventional way as well. Comparing himself and his lover to his parents is almost terrifying – “maybe you’re just like my mother – she’s never satisfied”. There’s also the stranger imagery of Prince telling the lover about animals striking curious poses, and “they feel the heat between you and me”.
When I was younger I must admit that I never liked Prince. I was too young to understand his importance in the 80’s, and only knew him by “1999” – which I became tired of once it actually turned the year 1999. Sometime in college, someone played me “Purple Rain”, and it blew my mind that Prince was not just that freak with the song that made me hate the turning of the millennium.