This was written by Eddie Schwartz, a guitarist, producer and songwriter who had written "Hit Me With Your Best Shot
," which was a hit for Pat Benatar in 1980. Eddie was living in New York when he started writing this with another songwriter named Rob Friedman. They mapped out part of the verse and had some musical ideas, but forgot about it shortly thereafter. A little while later, Eddie joined a band with Lenny Zakatek, who was a singer with The Alan Parsons Project. Along with Dave Tyson, they went to Toronto and worked on an album.
Realizing they needed another song, Eddie played them some of "Don't Shed a Tear" and they developed it in a jam session. Eddie came up with the guitar intro and they had a groove for it, but no lyrics except the idea for the title. As he did with "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," Eddie wrote the lyrics in the studio in about 15 minutes, which Lenny then sang. They put the song on a compilation that went out to record companies they hoped would sign the band. A few days later Tommy Mottola (an executive at Sony Records and future husband of Mariah Carey) called Eddie and told him he loved "Don't Shed a Tear" and wanted to sign the band. Soon after, Rob Friedman, who had started writing the song with Eddie, heard it and was not pleased because he had been forgotten in the process.Schwartz told Songfacts
: "It was all inadvertent, but Rob was very upset about the whole thing. On top of that, he hated the lyrics. We got into a strange situation where Tommy Mottola was telling us it was a hit single and he wanted to sign the band, and we had the co-writer of the song telling us he hated it. Everybody calmed down, things worked themselves out and for reasons that were totally unmusical but had to do with negotiations between the manager and Tommy Mottola, we never ended up signing the deal and the band didn't stay together."