The story behind famous Canadian music video “Tears Are Not Enough” featuring NHL players – including Wayne Gretzky and a more-than-just-happy-to-be-there Mike Bossy

Adam Proteau
New York Islanders v Montreal Canadiens 1986-87

It’s been nearly 29 years since Northern Light’s “Tears Are Not Enough” – Canada’s answer to USA For Africa’s “We Are The World” and Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” fund-raising songs in aid of Ethiopian famine relief – was recorded and released. And there’s an about-as-old video interview with the song’s composer that features stories about a group of NHL all-stars singing along – and the lofty musical aspirations of Hockey Hall of Famer Mike Bossy.

In the interview – conducted in February of 1985 by Terry David Mulligan for CBC Vancouver’s “Good Rockin’ Tonite” program – famous Canadian composer David Foster talks about NHL players participating in the song and video (a group of Campbell Conference all-stars led by Wayne Gretzky were filmed singing the tune before a sea of swaying fans at the 1985 all-star game in Calgary). But the highlight for many hockey fans comes when Foster discusses Bossy’s earnest efforts in front of the microphone.

“The true test came when we went to do the hockey players,” Foster said. “The reason why I wanted to have the hockey players on…to me, (the song) is Canada. This is not just singers getting together. I wanted to expand it and show just the whole country banding together for this worthwhile cause.

“So we went and got the hockey players and they were very cooperative. And I was going, ‘Oh, no, if these guys can’t sing this thing, I’m dead…everybody’s going to kill me.’ We’ve been bragging about the fact that it’s a real easy melody to sing. Well man, we have video of Mike Bossy (points to neck) with his veins popping, he’s singing so hard. He later confided, he says, ‘You know, I really want to be a singer’. (laughs) It was fantastic, man. These guys were singing their balls off.”

Watch the hockey-related portion of the conversation beginning at the 10:26 mark of the video. But if you remember the song, watch the whole video; it’s got some intriguing stories, including one about noted hockey fan Anne Murray.