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Crying doves

Prince & The Revolution – When Doves Cry

#quotefromthe80s
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 (She's never satisfied)
Why do we scream at each other
#Prince #WhenDovesCry

 

In May 1984 a song was released that could not possibly go unnoticed. In fact, it was written for a highly anticipated film, Prince’s legendary Purple Rain. A film that everyone had heard about, which was out by the end of July of the same year, and for which there was enormous anticipation, also as regards the soundtrack that would surely be released shortly thereafter. By the way, I am still waiting to see it.

The producers’ choice was to use a song as a preview, about two months before the release of the film, and then at the end of June to release the entire soundtrack album, a month before the release of the film.

At the beginning of Spring the album was almost complete, only the final approval was missing, with the decision on which song to promote in preview. And just in those days Prince shows up with a last song that he had composed a few days earlier, straight away, within a few hours. He had composed it because in a way he had to fill a gap in some scenes in the film where Prince was talking about his father.

The guys at record company hear the song and have no doubts: this will be the first song to be launched on the market, to drive the sales of the album and the attendance to the film. This very important role will be entrusted to When doves cry.

Indeed in the text Prince explicitly mentions parents, and also in the video we see some scenes that lead us to the theme of possible domestic violence, but there is no evidence that this was really an autobiographical song. Prince was rather reserved about it, and in all likelihood Prince composed and sang it by identifying himself with The Kid, the protagonist of Purple Rain, rather than himself – although certainly there is more than one affinity between the two. Moreover, even in the scene of the film in which he introduces the song Purple Rain, The Kid talks about his father.

Who is the song about? Who are the doves crying because their story is breaking up? If he is The Kid, or one of Prince’s many artistic transpositions, who was she? Prince’s sentimental life was quite turbulent around the time the film was being made (and even after that, to be honest). At the end of the relationship between Prince and Vanity, the unlucky leader of Vanity 6, originally destined to have a major role in the film, Vanity left the group and was replaced by Apollonia Kotero. The group was then renamed Apollonia 6 and took part in the movie. At the time there were rumors of a predictable relationship between Prince with Apollonia, but there has always been a lot of mystery about this and Apollonia herself has always seemed more annoyed than flattered by these rumors.

What was more public domain is that during the relationship with Vanity, Prince had met Wendy Melvoin, the guitarist of The Revolution and later part of the duo Wendy and Lisa. Some time later, however, he had also met Wendy’s twin sister, Susannah, and they were struck by first sight attraction. If the story already seems so complicated to you, with Prince, Vanity, Susannah Melvoin and perhaps Apollonia, be aware that we have not reached the point yet: in fact, even before starting with Vanity, Prince was in a relationship with another Susan: Susan Moonsie, one of the components of Vanity 6, the girl with black curls. And it appears that their relationship actually continued even while Prince was with Vanity (and possibly Susannah, and possibly Apollonia). In short, legend has it that the crying doves are precisely Prince and Susan Moonsie at the end of their turbulent but lasting relationship.

Moreover, three years later Susan will be mentioned in another song that spoke precisely of gossip, Rumors by The Timex Social Club, where they speak of a certain Susan, six feet tall and able to knock you to your knees.

The song had a disruptive impact: it was the first song where Prince’s sensuality was shown from the opening scenes, where, once the doors are opened, a flock of doves comes out of a purple room (obviously) where the genius from Minneapolis is naked in a bathtub (with water, thankfully). Not only did the song quickly make it to the top of the charts, it stayed there for a long time and prevented another hugely popular song from making it to the top spot. We are talking about Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark, who for this reason, while it may seem incredible, never had a song at the top of the singles charts.

Musically, the song has an incredible story: not only did Prince arrange and play all (absolutely all) of the song’s instruments, and all within half a day (or knowing him, more likely half a night), but he also brought in a couple of fundamental changes. Before putting together the final version, he decided to take the bass line out. A daring choice, I would dare to say, given the importance of this instrument in pop and funky. Prince tried to take it off, he noticed that the absence gave a different sound to the song, and was determined to keep it off.

Then, as for the drums, he had used an electronic drum machine, of which he was one of the best programmers ever. But he wondered what to do in concerts, where the drums were naturally acoustic, and invented a kind of supporting tool so that The Revolution drummer, Bobby Z., could actually play electronic drums as if it were acoustic drums. .

When Doves Cry was for a few months Prince’s greatest success ever, but the story of this great artist was evolving at the speed of light, and three months later another masterpiece came out, Purple Rain, which probably limited some of its future success becoming the eternal symbol of this great protagonist of the 80s. However, When Doves Cry still remains a fundamental song for Prince’s career and for his musical history.

Prince and The Revolution on Wikipedia

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