“Tears Are Not Enough” is a 1985 charity single recorded by a supergroup of Canadian artists, under the name Northern Lights, to raise funds for relief of the 1983–85 famine in Ethiopia. It was one of a number of such supergroup singles recorded between December 1984 and April 1985, along with 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, “Cantaré, cantarás” by a supergroup of Latin American and Spanish singers, and “Les Yeux de la faim” in French Canada.
Although recorded independently of the USA for Africa project, it was included on the full-length We Are the World album.
The project was organized by Bruce Allen, who brought together a large group of artists to record a song written by David Foster, Jim Vallance, Bryan Adams, Rachel Paiement, Paul Hyde and Bob Rock. Foster and Vallance wrote the music and initial lyrics, Adams completed the English lyrics, Paiement wrote the one French verse, Rock & Hyde contributed the song title. The song was recorded on February 10, 1985 at Manta Sound studios in Toronto.
The song was issued as a single by CBS Records in March of that year, and quickly reached number one on the Canadian Top 40 chart. It also finished number one on the year-end Canadian charts for 1985. The song’s video also received extensive airplay on MuchMusic.
On December 22, 1985, CBC Television aired a 90-minute documentary by John Zaritsky on the song’s creation. A CBC reporter, Brian Stewart, had been the first Western journalist to bring the famine in Ethiopia to worldwide attention. The film was a shortlisted Genie Award finalist for Best Documentary Film at the 7th Genie Awards in 1986.
By 1990, the project had raised $3.2 million for famine relief projects in Africa. Ten percent of the funds raised were kept in Canada to assist Canadian food banks.
Solo vocalists (in order)
Geddy Lee (Rush)
Mike Reno (Loverboy)
Heard in duos or trios
Mike Reno (Loverboy) with Liberty Silver
Carroll Baker, Ronnie Hawkins and Murray McLauchlan
Véronique Béliveau, Robert Charlebois and Claude Dubois (in French)
Bryan Adams with Donny Gerrard (Skylark)
Alfie Zappacosta with Lisa Dal Bello
Carole Pope (Rough Trade) and Paul Hyde (The Payola$)
Salome Bey, Mark Holmes (Platinum Blonde) and Lorraine Segato (The Parachute Club)
Tom Cochrane (Red Rider)
Wayne St. John
Instrumentation and production
David Foster – Keyboards, Producer
Jim Vallance – Drums, Engineer, Associate Producer
Paul Dean (Loverboy) – Guitar
Steven Denroche – French Horn
Doug Johnson (Loverboy) – Synthesizer
David Sinclair (Straight Lines / Body Electric) – Acoustic guitar
Hayward Parrott – Engineer
Geoff Turner – Engineer
Bob Rock (The Payola$) – Engineer
Humberto Gatica – Mixing Engineer
The recording was issued as a 12-inch single by CBS (BEN-7073) in March 1985. It reached No. 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 (Col BEN-40043), 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. A 90-minute documentary of the recording session, directed by John Zaritsky, was broadcast on CBC TV on 22 December 1985 and subsequently made available on home video.
Administered by the Northern Lights for Africa Society in Vancouver, 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.