Song of the Day: “Tears Are Not Enough” by Northern Lights

tears-are-not-enough“Tears Are Not Enough”, a charity single, was recorded on this day in 1985 by a supergroup of Canadian artists, under the name Northern Lights. Just as Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” in the United Kingdom, USA for Africa’s “We Are the World” in the United States, “Tears Are Not Enough” was to raise funds for relief of the 1983–85 famine in Ethiopia.

After recording “We Are the World”, Quincy Jones contacted David Foster to record a similar song with Canadian musicians that could be included on USA for Africa’s We Are the World album, set for release in March of 1985. According to The Canadian Encyclopedia, Foster was in the midst of recording an album with Paul Hyde and Bob Rock of the Payola$, who offered up one of their own compositions, “Tears Are Not Enough.” Foster loved the title and gave it, along with a melody he composed, to songwriter Jim Vallance, who wrote the lyrics with assistance from Bryan Adams. Vallance’s wife, Rachel Paiement, contributed some lines in French to help make the song truly Canadian. The next step was to assemble a powerhouse lineup of singers. For that, Foster enlisted Bryan Adams’ manager, Bruce Allen. They were able to gather 50 singers. The list will be seen below.

The recording was issued as a 12-inch single by CBS in March 1985. It reached #1 on Canadian charts by late April, eventually selling more than 300,000 copies. It was also included on the USA for Africa album We Are the World, which sold more than three million copies. A video of “Tears Are Not Enough” was shown in frequent rotation on MuchMusic and became a fixture on Canadian TV in 1985.

Proceeds from the project exceeded $3.2 million by 1990, with 10 per cent going to Canadian assistance programs and the remainder to Ethiopian famine relief.

Here is the list of singers:

Solo vocalists (in order)
Gordon Lightfoot
Burton Cummings (The Guess Who)
Anne Murray
Joni Mitchell
Dan Hill
Neil Young
Bryan Adams
Corey Hart
Bruce Cockburn
Geddy Lee (Rush)
Mike Reno (Loverboy)

Heard in duos or trios
Mike Reno (Loverboy) with Liberty Silver
Carroll Baker, Ronnie Hawkins and Murray McLauchlan
Véronique Béliveau, Robert Charlebois and Claude Dubois (in French)
Bryan Adams with Donny Gerrard (Skylark)
Alfie Zappacosta with Lisa Dal Bello
Carole Pope (Rough Trade) and Paul Hyde (The Payola$)
Salome Bey, Mark Holmes (Platinum Blonde) and Lorraine Segato (The Parachute Club)

In 1991, David Foster produced yet another supergroup charity single, Voices That Care (my personal favorite, although I am biased as served in Desert Shield/Desert Storm for which this single supported). But, “Tears Are Not Enough” is a close 2nd. If you’re unfamiliar with the song, definitely check it out.

Here is a “Making of” documentary.

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