It Ain’t Enough – In The Music

´It Ain´t Enough´ – Inside The Music. Words and Music by Corey Hart. Produced by Jon Astley & Phil Chapman. Recorded at Revolution Studios, UK, April 1982.
‘First Offense’ Album 1984. Chart Position  #4 (Canada Singles),  #17 (USA Billboard Singles).

Summer of 1981. I was driving south from Montreal on the I90 in a Mazda GLC car having just turned19 years old. I was emboldened with energetic youthful enthusiasm but deep down scared shitless of the great unknowns awaiting me. I actually got pulled over by the police outside of Albany. I was speeding so fast with the cassette blasting Nick Lowe´s ´Cruel To Be Kind´ that I had no idea cops had been following me for a while with sirens blaring. Almost got arrested because I didn’t have my Canadian passport with me (just my driver’s license) So no autographs to save my butt in those pre-fame days. 4 hours into the trip and I already had a hefty speeding ticket with a red neck sheriff. So with my heart pounding I drove the rest of the way like a snail.

I was eager to spend that summer in Long Island, NY being afforded a golden opportunity of working with some of the musicians from Billy Joel’s hot band. I recorded several demos over the summer in pursuit of finally landing my first record deal. I had been trying since I was 11 years old. My first night in the studio I met Billy, Lisa Dal Bello and Aldo Nova. Pretty cool eh. Lisa and I became friends.

I played live gigs several weekends in a music club restaurant with some members of the BJ band. On a few Sunday nights, I would also perform in the club alone at the piano. No one really payed me any notice though. After a while, it felt as if I was singing to an empty room, although I could always hear chatter or laughing in the background. A far cry from the scream-fest glory days of my BITB tours to come which I much prefer! Thanks! It also marked the first time that I ever made $ for my musical talents. The club owner would pay me 35$ dollars in cash per Sunday for 1.5 hours of singing. Wow. I was rich! 🙂  I would always slip in a Bee Gee song like ´To Love Somebody¨ or Billy Joel´s ´Honesty´  to try & get the crowd listening. It didn’t help much. It’s interesting how a song that I admired like ‘Honesty’, (perhaps my favourite BJ song) only went as high as #24 on the US Billboard charts. It made no sense to me. Not even Top 20?? I later used this rationale of the crazy music business not ´making any sense´ to try and assuage my disappointment and genuine hurt when songs like¨ In Your Soul´ or ´Everything In My Heart ´peaked in the 30´s on the very same US singles Billboard chart.

My songwriting was prolific in those early days. I would spend all my waking hours at piano ‘chipping away’ melodies and lyrical ideas. When your young you don’t think of time structure in the same orderly fashion we do as adults. At least I didn’t. I only wanted to write, sing, sign my recording contract. It was all the air I needed to breathe. Nothing else mattered. I would often eat meals at the piano cause I didn’t want to interrupt the creative process. I was dating Erika my first true girlfriend but she was back in Montreal. She visited me for 2 weeks in July.

I probably wrote over 50 tunes that summer. Yes. One of them in the mix was called ‘ It Ain’t Enough’. I confess this song is very sentimental for me, one of my favourites. It is Corey straight down to the core.The chord sequence, melody, phrasing, even the pouting in my voice. It was a song that defined me as a young budding songwriter. It represented a big step in my creative evolution when I wrote it at 19. 

“I could capture all the love the great romantics had, sing you a song that ain’t half bad, but that ain’t enough, that ain’t enough for you” 

I was using alliteration techniques which I found really effective in songs. I later applied the same style in ´Sunglasses At Night’ ‘ ‘ repeating ´so I can, so I can’, but whom was I singing about if I was happy in my relationship with Erika. This may come as a shocker surprise to most of you but it was not for a girl. It was written for all the record labels that kept rejecting me. By late August when I wrote the song several companies in NYC had already passed on my material. I felt rebuffed again. I couldn’t understand why they didn’t like me? What was I doing wrong? What do they freaking want !?

‘It Ain’t Enough,  It Ain’t Enough’  Nothing’s enough for you!´.

I took these emotions sculpting them it into a love song of unrequited love. Of never quite matching up to their expectations. Never being good enough. Yep, my friends that´s the truth of where the song origins come from.

¨ I could carry the weight of your sad times dear, give you the strength to face your fears´ “I know ill never be afraid to say I’m here by your side and i’m gonna stay¨.

These lines in the bridge were nascent, seminal lyrical themes I repeated for future compositions like ‘I Am By Your Side’, ‘Always’ and ´Baby When I Call your Name’. These words were for Erika. 

¨I could pour you a drink like I pour out my heart, smile when i’m sad and act dumb when i’m smart¨. 

Those lines were my attempt at transcending the ‘silly love songs’  I was determined not to write. I always wanted to compose meaningful, intelligent lyrics without being preachy or pedantic. Of course whether I succeeded or not is subjective. I was listening to the Nick Lowe album. I discovered another song I liked on it called ´You Make Me´. A really slow, sparse, simple ballad. It was a love song that inspired me with colours for ´It Ain´t Enough´There is no explanation for musical influences. All musicians are influenced subconsciously or consciously. It is as natural to sunrise as sunset.

I was so fortunate to have two supremely talented, supportive Producers for my debut album Mr.Jon Astley and Mr. Phil Chapman. Jon often told me not to sing ´with plumbs in my mouth´ cause I was garbling my words or pouting too often. But I really wasn’t trying to do anything except sing in bloody key with emotion. But Jon was right. I did swallow my words in a way. I am not picking on my vocals now 🙂 so don´t get in a huff my loyal ‘caravanistas’.

I loved saxophone. I met Andy Hamilton through Jon who hired him for the album. Such a great horn player. We traveled the world together on many tours, future recordings. No one could ever say a bad word about Andy the Scot. His playing on IAE is brilliant.  

But without doubt the musician I was closest with was British guitarist Michael Hehir. Mike and I had this quiet musical karma where we could just look at one another & tap into the creative landscape we were trying to paint. I told him in the studio one day that I was ‘going to make it  & he was going to be in my band if he wanted too’. Maybe he thought I didn’t really mean it (about being in my band) that I was just being polite. But I did mean it. Mike Hehir plays guitar with the swagger of a Keith Richards,  graceful blues of a Knopfler or Gilmour, sensitivity of a Harrison, and the cojones of a Steve Stevens. All of these styles resonating in Mike’s unique musical soul. His solo on ‘Everything in My Heart’ or Mandolin touches with ‘Crossroad Caravan’ still brings a lump to the throat. We had some amazing times together. He will always be my brother.

So there goes another ITM.  “It Ain’t Enough” was awarded as a ´Socan Canadian Classic´ song in 1996. I am so grateful for the sincere appreciation and love my fans have given to this song. I will always sing it for you in concert (even if it´s just one more in 2013) It will always make the playlist.

Irony in the words is that you have blessed me with ‘More Than Enough’ for a lifetime. I honour this gift from you, my fans.  In closing, I quote from the last lines in the second bridge of IAE:

‘I’m here by your side & I’m gonna stay.. Just a little closer to you’ 

Well, I mean this one too 🙂
Corey Hart, March 8, 2012.

25 Responses to “It Ain’t Enough – In The Music”
  1. Tammy Gal Buchanan

    Thank you Corey for ITM to another one of your “Masterpieces”.
    As a longtime fan, I will forever support and be “by your side” holding you and your music close to my heart and soul always and forever.. xx You are one very special man. 🙂

  2. Dominique Cantin

    Reading this is like….being there with you while you are sitting at the piano writing this song ! It’s such a true gift for us fans to read your ITM !
    Thank you Corey xx

    DominiqueTeacher Canteen ;))

  3. Tina MTV Girl

    WOW! I can not believe that this song was written at the age of 19! I enjoyed reading, smiled, laughed and even cried by the last paragraph. I always though this song was inspired by your frustration with the record companies, but always loved the “love story” to it. We all sometimes feel like no matter what we do “it just ain’t enough”, but with the strength of this song, I’ve come to realize it’s a definitely “it’s not me it’s YOU” scenario. Love this ITM, thanks for letting us into your mind and soul. And double thanks for loving us. We are forever “here by your side & we’re gonna stay.. Just a little closer to you” – Much Love Corey!

  4. Jim Paton

    This was one of the songs that I did in our rotation. Loved this one from the moment I heard it. I didn’t know the influance, but that’s very cool that that you wrote it for the reason you did.

  5. Sandy Smile

    Love. Love. Love!
    Thank you for caring about your caravanistas enough to share this, and other ITMs with us. Your dedication to your fans means the world to us. We’re here by your side, and we’re gonna stay. :))

    • Hthtrh

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  6. Gina tshirt girl

    I have always known since I was young that you were one of the most talented song writers, singers of all time, and everytime you give us the ITM for one of your songs it just confirms that I was right all along!!! I am by your side Corey and will always be!!! Please continue to let us relive all these memories with you, as I know that this helps most of us get on with their day!!! Peace!! Xxx

  7. Lucie Dumais

    Corey, your way with words will never ceased to amaze me. Not only as a songwriter but also as a “writer”…the way you explain the how to and the why’s of each songs with details and little inside stories is just beautiful and refreshing, we almost can hear you think. I very much appreciate the kind words you wrote for the musicians and producers that have worked with you and that became your friends. Such love and respect in your words for these people. Reading all of this only makes me “love” you more. Here by your side and I’m gonna stay. Respectfully yours, Lucie

  8. Wendy

    I am happy to know the meaning now behind IAE. Reading your post almost made me cry, but I cannot tell you why really. I just know that I too, have always know, admired and appreciated how talented you are as a singer and songwriter, and I thank-you for sharing the details and the inside stories and meaning of your songs and I look forward to more!! One heart….

  9. Jen Baker (TattooGirl)

    I was 9 years old sitting on the floor of my friend’s grandparents watching Video Hits. It Ain’t Enough came on and I said “Who is that?!” My friend was American and already knew about Corey Hart. We are going to be turning 37 this month, still close friends. Kelley visited Ottawa last September and I went back into her grandparents den and stood in that very same spot and said, “It Ain’t Enough!” 🙂 Very special song, Thank you!

  10. Coach De University McGill

    Thanks for the great ITM BTW 🙂 I totally agree on In Your Soul and Everything In My Heart should have been higher. Two amazing tunes. Any of those 50 songs still floating around to be recorded?!

  11. KKT

    What a gift to us and I am grateful you have such a vivid memory of that time in your life. This was the song that made me go buy First Offense and thus began a lifelong musical journey. I’m a little glad this wasn’t a real life heartbreak song, honestly 😉 Like others said it hurt every CH fan when your songs didn’t do well. But you definitely won out in the long run – there aren’t many other rock stars with such devoted fans through the years. Hope that takes some of the ‘sting’ out of that hurt (:-) And p.s., it’s all been more than enough 🙂

  12. T.L.C.

    I do love me some of this song…but I’ma lottle likin some alliteration…and it’s so clever. And hey, most geniuses do their genius stuff before they are 20 so I’m not surprised you did this at 19.
    I can see how you pulled from all your personal goins-on to write this, I mean life is just so full of everybody and their want, want, want and here you were singing you were ok with that just climb on your shoulders and ride through the solar storm.

    I don’t know why these letters are so big. : {

  13. Tiffini

    To this day, still one of my top favorites! This song IS Corey!

  14. Marsi


    This has to be one of my absolute favorite songs. Although, I can say that about so many of yours.

    I’ve had a suspicion that this song wasn’t about Erika, but more to do with the music industry. I can only imagine what it was like to have so many dreams at that age, and getting door after door shut in your face. Never Surrender must’ve been your motto too. 🙂

    Thank you for taking time to let us get to know you better. It is such a joy to read your thoughts, feelings and experiences in life.

    with much admiration, Marsi

  15. Amy J

    I bought First Offense after hearing ‘Sunglasses’ one time on MTV. But when I heard IAE, I knew that you were going to be around for a very long time. It was such a classic song, a song that would appeal to anyone of any age anywhere. It does not sound like an 80’s song; it is timeless. You deserve to feel very proud of it. The only words in this ITM that make me sad are when you say you’ll sing it just one more time in 2013….although IAE will live forever, it’s sad to think you might not perform it live again after 2013.

    • Reiki

      This is getting a bit more stbjecuive, but I much prefer the Zune Marketplace. The interface is colorful, has more flair, and some cool features like Mixview’ that let you quickly see related albums, songs, or other users related to what you’re listening to. Clicking on one of those will center on that item, and another set of neighbors will come into view, allowing you to navigate around exploring by similar artists, songs, or users. Speaking of users, the Zune Social is also great fun, letting you find others with shared tastes and becoming friends with them. You then can listen to a playlist created based on an amalgamation of what all your friends are listening to, which is also enjoyable. Those concerned with privacy will be relieved to know you can prevent the public from seeing your personal listening habits if you so choose.

    • Chisato

      Please play this every day for a year so that we may learn to avoid some of the financial chiacnery that is responsible for our current economic situation. It plainly demonstrates the faulty logic and moral repugnance of people making money for doing essentially nothing productive; not building, not laboring, just trying to make a buck via gambling, risk, and trickery in my estimation. If all those people directed their efforts to honest, hard, productive work and not some pseudo wealth creation mumbo jumbo this would be a better world.

  16. tina vittorioso

    this is truly a fave of mine, I love the lyrics. Being a choreographer/dancer, I have learned over the years that not all your works of art will be loved by everyone. All that matters is you created something that expresses your emotions and gifts. It did take age to get me to this point! all your work is inspirational and you never sold out to the masses. that is why I love you and your music and why your fans are dedicated!

  17. Leonora

    I wonder if you could ever truly know how much getting to know you through these wonderful memories and anecdotes could mean to your fans. Because opening your heart this way and giving us these glimpses into song development, even your honesty about Erika (which I love and respect), really makes fans (or me at least), feel that much closer to you.
    Appreciation always!

  18. Calvin

    Another fond trip down memory lane! I am always amazed at the amount of detail you unpack with each story. But then you are a song writer, so I should not be too surprised. Regarding the U.S. chart meager positions of classic songs, I have remained baffled for years. The U.S. in home for me, but Billboard often prefers music mind rot over raw talent. I apologize for those that never got the ‘pout.’

  19. Kelly

    Very cute interview with your daughters… I absolutely love your music and you have an amazing voice…. the talent today does not compare to your voice .

  20. Shawn

    Corey, I have 4,222 songs in my iTunes music library, including the finest pop singles of the last 50 years, and “It Ain’t Enough” is STILL one of my all-time favorites. Absolutely gorgeous & timeless.

    Thank you for this and many other songs that have provided light & love throughout the years!

  21. Jackie

    I love reading the ITM’s because it gives me insight into the songs and I appreciate them even more. IAE remains one of my all-time videos and songs. Please continue to grace and bless us with your music and gifts.

  22. Tanya Barrett

    Love all your songs.
    Will you be coming to Australia in the near future.

    Love you Corey.

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