Tears Are Not Enough

"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 1984–1985 famine in Ethiopia. It was one of a number of such supergroup singles recorded, along with Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" in the United Kingdom, and USA for Africa's "We Are the World" in the United States.

The project was organized by Bruce Allen, who brought together a large group of artists to record a song written by Bryan Adams, Jim Vallance and David Foster, with additional contributions by Rachel Paiement, Paul Hyde and Bob Rock. The song was recorded on February 10, 1985 at Manta Sound studios in Toronto, Ontario.

The song was issued as a single by CBS Records in March of that year, and quickly reached Number 1 on the Canadian Top 40 charts. The song was later included on USA for Africa's We Are the World album as well. The song's video also received extensive airplay on MuchMusic.

On December 22, 1985, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation aired a 90-minute documentary on the song's creation, which was subsequently released on videocassette as well. A CBC reporter, Brian Stewart, had been the first Western journalist to bring the famine in Ethiopia to worldwide attention.

By 1990, the project had raised $3.2 million for famine relief projects in Africa, although 10 per cent of the money raised were kept to fund Canadian food assistance programs as well.


Solo vocalists (in order)

Heard in duos or trios

Chorus members

Chorus members included:

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


  • Joni Mitchell spoke to writer Iain Blair about her Northern Lights For Africa experience. She said: "I know it sounds ridiculous, but I was literally starving when we did the session 'cuz my yoga teacher had sent me to a psychic dietician who, while rubbing her chin and swinging her arm around in a circle, had diagnosed a lot of food allergies. The result was, predictably, that I was hardly allowed to eat anything, so by the time I arrived with an apple and a rice patty, my poor stomach was making all these strange noises. Then we get in the studio, and the engineer says he can't record 'cuz he's picking up some weird rumbling sound coming from my direction. (She laughs). And it was all pretty ironic, considering the subject matter."
  • Wayne Gretzky appears briefly at the end of the music video, singing the song with other Campbell Conference All-Stars during the 1985 NHL All-Star game in Calgary.
  • In addition to Canadian music stars and industry veterans, the backing lineup also included many Canadian actors, entertainers, and celebrities such as Eugene Levy which can be seen in the video.


See also

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