Monday, September 13, 2021



Raw, gritty, compassionate, surprising and darkly funny - Australian legend Jimmy Barnes' unforgettable childhood memoir.

The time I have spent writing this book has caused me a lot of pain. Sometimes because of what I have remembered about my childhood and sometimes because of what I couldn't remember. It is funny how your mind blocks things out when those things can hurt you. There are a lot of things I wish I didn't remember....

A household name, an Australian rock icon, the elder statesman of OzPubRock - there isn't an accolade or cliché that doesn't apply to Jimmy Barnes. But long before Cold Chisel and Barnesy, long before the tall tales of success and excess, there was the true story of James Dixon Swan - a working class boy whose family made the journey from Scotland to Australia in search of a better life.

Working Class Boy is a powerful reflection on a traumatic and violent childhood that fuelled the excess and recklessness which would define but almost destroy the rock 'n' roll legend. This is the story of how James Swan became Jimmy Barnes. It is a memoir burning with the frustration and frenetic energy of teenage sex, drugs, violence and ambition for more than what you have.

Raw, gritty, compassionate, surprising and darkly funny - Jimmy Barnes' childhood memoir is at once the story of migrant dreams fulfilled and dashed. Arriving in Australia in the summer of 1962, things went from bad to worse for the Swan family - Dot, Jim and their six kids. The scramble to manage in the tough northern suburbs of Adelaide in the '60s would take its toll on the Swans as dwindling money, too much alcohol and fraying tempers gave way to violence and despair.

This is the story of a family's collapse, but it is also the story of a young boy's dream to escape the misery of the suburbs with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to join a rock 'n' roll band and get out of town for good. 


Everyone knows who Jimmy Barnes is ... if you grew up in Australia .. you know Cold Chisel ... then you know who he is ... BUT you really don't know him at all. We know the musician, the man that stood on stage swigging out of a bottle - maybe to hide the pain as well as be a part of the scene ... but his upbringing was tough and you just realise how much when you start reading this book.

Learning to survive .... with little money, even less love ... his family did it tough and you totally get to understand why Jimmy wanted out of there as soon as he could.

The constants in his life, did let him know that there was another side to life ... and he took a journey to find the life he wanted, the love he desired and the music became a part of all of us that grew up with him.

I read this book when I was first in hospital when I was having open heart surgery ... I forgot that Jimmy had heart surgery too. I could not put this book down - I felt his pain, I felt his joy and I felt the numbness that came across me at times reading his story.

This is brilliant - and the follow up book WORKING CLASS MAN doesn't disappoint ... I will review that one later ... 

RATING : ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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