What takes a good or even great song and transcends it into an all-time favorite usually entails encompassing a personal connection—a vivid memory forever linked in your mind.  I was born in 1971 and grew up in a home where my Motown/Oldies-loving father pretty much detested any music from the 80s. That wasn’t limited to specific genres either; it mattered not if it were Michael Jackson, Culture Club, Twisted Sister, Run DMC or Madonna. My dad didn’t wanna hear that shit.

Chances were if I were playing “my” music at a decibel unacceptable to him, I’d be greeted with a “turn that fuckin’ shit down right now” wail from the old man, typically followed by genuine threats to shatter my boom box with a hammer. Needless to say if it wasn’t Elvis, The Temptations, Paul Anka or some variation of those styles he vetoed it being played in his house.

I’m aware my anecdote isn’t moving the enthusiasm needle in the slightest, but here’s my point—despite my dad finding just about everything and anything 80s music insufferable, he undeniably loved Prince. I mean freegin’ LOVED his music. He had the Purple Rain album and straight wore out the needle playing that record. I’m not sure why I found my dad’s obsession with Prince so mesmerizing but hand to God— more than 30 yars later it’s literally one of things I most remember about the mid-1980’s, and I’m going further than merely music.  Since I was too young then to really appreciate many of the great tunes from the 50’s and 60’s he dominated my ears with, listening to Prince with my father was one of the few musical bonding moments we ever shared.

Like I said, favorites quite often have personal connections…

Prince was a world-class artist and for me When Doves Cry was his Mona Lisa. It’s easily one of the greatest songs of the ’80s and unbelievably pioneering instrumentally as Prince took out all the bass before releasing the record.  Between the unforgettable intro, a groove anyone can get down with, a catchy chorus rooted in deeply personal feelings and an outro with Prince screeching over crazy sounds I can’t fully explain—you never want the song to end. Ironically that’s exactly what it does, end seemingly without warning.  

Did I mention Prince played every instrument on the track?

With yesterday’s number-four selection, Lionel Richie’s Hello I discussed loving the song despite a horrifically stupid music video that accompanied it.  That’s not the case here as the video for When Doves Cry was nearly as fantastic as the song itself.  It centers around the ultra-sad delicacy of Prince having his girl (Apollonia) stolen by his rival (Morris Day) and also an violent father who abuses his mother. There’s multiple cutaway shots of Apollonia during happier times and the video expertly employs animal imagery to illustrate wearisome relationships. Prince is like in a bathtub and shit…. Seriously, it’s brilliant.  

I’ve written this before, in fact several times as this countdown winds down and it merits repeating one final time—-1984 is the greatest year for pop music in history.  That said it only seems fitting When Doves Cry finished that historic year with the number-one song on Billboard. It was the best of the best.

Forget limiting this to 1984. To this day When Doves Cry is still astoundingly excellent and has emphatically stood the test of time.

Chart Success: When Doves Cry reached number-one the Billboard Hot 100 and held the top spot for five weeks.  It finally got overtaken by Ray Parker Jr’s Ghostbusters. In total it spent 23 weeks on the charts and finished 1984 number-one on the year-end Billboard Hot 100.

Great Lyrics: At least in the Purple Rain movie the song indicates Prince doesn’t want to become like his parents and particularly his father, who’s “too demanding” (and also downright physically abusive).

“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


How can you just leave me standing?

Alone in a world so cold? (World 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 (She’s never satisfied)

Why do we scream at each other

This is what it sounds like

When doves cry”

Fun Fact: Since we’re so close to the end let’s drop a few. Via Songfacts, When Doves Cry kept Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” at number-two for three straight weeks and therefore, the Boss has never had a number-one hit. Essentially Prince cock-blocked him.   This was the highest of three Prince songs in this countdown, all landing inside the top 15.  Purple Rain came in at No. 15 and Let’s Go Crazy soon followed at No. 13.   Prince finished his career with 11 top three songs including five number ones: When Doves Cry, Let’s Go Crazy, Kiss, Cream and Batdance (from Batman).

68. Bobby Brown – Don’t Be Cruel 

56. Michael Sembello – Maniac

55. Styx – Too Much Time On My Hands

54. Heart – Alone 

53. Olivia Newton John – Physical 

52. Loverboy – When It’s Over

51. The Time – Jungle Love

50 Michael Jackson – Thriller 

49. Marvin Gaye- Sexual Healing 

 48. Huey Lewis & The News – Do You Believe In Love

47. Madonna – Crazy For You

46. Hall & Oates – Maneater

45. Toto – Rosanna 

44. New Edition – Mr. Telephone Man

43. Bruce Springsteen – Born in the USA

42. Tears For Fears – Everybody Wants To Rule The World

41. Whitney Houston – I Wanna Dance With Somebody

40. Tiffany – Could’ve Been

39. Bruce Springsteen – Dancing In The Dark

38. Culture Club – Karma Chameleon

37. Christopher Cross – Sailing 

36. Go-Go’s – We Got The Beat

35. The Jets – Make It Real

34. Foreigner – I Want To Know What Love Is

33. Pat Benatar – Love Is A Battlefield

32. USA For Africa- We Are The World

31. Van Halen – Jump

30. Kenny Loggins – I’m Free (Heaven Helps The Man)

29. Dexys Midnite Runners – Come On Eileen

28.  J. Geils Band – Centerfold

27. Hall & Oates – Private Eyes

26. Madonna – Like A Virgin

25. New Edition – Cool It Now

24. Men At Work – Who Can It Be Now

23. Eddie Murphy – Party All The Time

22. Jermaine Stewart – We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off

21. Don Henley – Dirty Laundry 

20. Scorpions – Still Loving You

19. Wham! – Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go

18. Billy Vera – At This Moment

17. Phil Collins/Philip Bailey – Easy Lover

16. Tommy Tutone – 867-5309/Jenny

15. Prince – Purple Rain

14. Wham – Careless Whisper

13. Prince – Let’s Go Crazy 

12. Rockwell – Somebody’s Watching Me

11. Rick Springfield – Jessie’s Girl 

10. Survivor – Eye Of The Tiger

9. Kenny Loggins – Footloose

8. Bryan Adams – Heaven 

7. Phil Collins – Against All Odds

6. Michael Jackson – Beat It 

5. Billy Ocean – Caribbean Queen 

4. Lionel Richie – Hello