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Working Class Boy

(Working Class Boy #1)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  3,203 ratings  ·  340 reviews
Long before Cold Chisel, long before 'Barnesy', there was the true story of James Dixon Swan

A household name, an Australian rock icon, the elder statesman of Ozrock - there isn't an accolade or cliche 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
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published September 19th 2016 by HarperCollins
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Erin Yes, you can purchase a physical CD from Bolinda or most good booksellers. Online you can download from iTunes or Audible. Jimmy reads the book too, s…moreYes, you can purchase a physical CD from Bolinda or most good booksellers. Online you can download from iTunes or Audible. Jimmy reads the book too, so it's really amazing. I'd highly recommend it.(less)

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Average rating 4.06  · 
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 ·  3,203 ratings  ·  340 reviews

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By rights, Jimmy Barnes should be dead and pickled, with his organs shrivelled by drugs. He certainly did everything possible to escape the pain of the hell that was his lot from birth.

Quick to act, quicker to react, he is lucky to have survived the violence inflicted on him or instigated by him before finding the success and family that he now enjoys.

“. . . as usual there is a nagging voice in the back of my head screaming, ‘You don’t deserve to be happy, you are no good.’ I have never r
Oct 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
I picked up this book as a fan of Barnesy and Cold Chisel, and I guess expecting a story of the man behind the band, how they came to be, anecdotes from thd road, that type of thing.

What I got instead, however, was the hard hitting story of a boy growing up poor, in a house filled with violence and neglect, struggling to survive and find his place in the world. The rock star was a mere mention in the last few chapters.

Heartbreaking reading, and a book that was difficult to put down.
Nov 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved the ease of this book. It is written in what I would describe as an "Australian Style" of story telling. It would have taken some bravery for Jimmy Barnes to share his life story. As a reader, I thank him for that, because his book enriched me. If I had more time, I could have easily read this in one day. It is an enjoyable read and it flows very well.

This book has enabled me to reflect on my own life. I come from a low socio-economic background in housing commission (similar to Trust h
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book went straight to my favourites list. no hesitation.

A raw, touching, sad and engaging memoir by a legend in the music industry. I grew up with Cold Chisel and Jimmy Barnes music. The music and lyrics are a part of my childhood and are attached to many of my own memories.

I feel grateful to have read this account of Jimmy's youth. What a harrowing experience it must have been for him to re-live his childhood and send it out into the world for all to read.

The sprinkling of humour throughou
Dianne Gray
Oct 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing journey through immigration, alcoholism, domestic violence, anger, torment and fear. The descriptions of the people in Jimmy’s early life are wonderfully drawn and I think I fell in love with the shining light of Reg along the way – what an angel. I laughed and cried as I could feel Jimmy’s torment, love and tears in every word. It’s certainly a page turner and I can’t wait for the next book.
Oct 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
If I'd known a second book is to be released, I wouldn't have bothered with this one and just read the second. This book could easily be condensed to two or three chapters and thereby only one book would have be necessary. I found the first half so repetitive. I am however, looking forward to the next book "the rock & roll years" though. ...more
Tony Nielsen
Jan 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Nowadays Australians and New Zealanders are totally familiar with the name Jimmy Barnes through his exploits as lead singer with Cold Chisel followed by a stellar career as a solo artist. None of the esteem in which he is mostly held could prepare you for the story of his upbringing in Working Class Boy, a title suggested to him by his friend Crowded House star, Neil Finn, after Jimmy's hit song Working Class Man.

In this memoir we soon discover that the early life of James Swan was brutal and vi
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Giving this 5 stars for sheer, raw honesty rather than technique. Jimmy is not an author and it shows in the sometimes jumbled nature of this book. He wrote that it took a year for him to sort through all the stories and you can sense how cathartic that was. The term 'working class' can mean so many things and I never imagined the 'tough' childhood Jimmy had occasionally mentioned in passing in interviews was quite this brutal. It makes your heart hurt. What a life, and what a miracle that he su ...more
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is an astonishing autobiography of a desperate childhood and adolescence, fuelled by alcohol, drugs, sex and violence. It’s a miracle Jimmy and his siblings lived through it. But survive they did, a testament to the enduring and brave human spirit. And maybe sheer dumb luck. Makes me want to read the next book...
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I couldn't review this book straight away. It left me chilled and electrified. It left me speechless. I am going to try to write a review because I can't not say that I loved this book, but I don't really know how well it will turn out. I'm still coming to grips with it.

For those who don't know (that is, aren't Australian, because all Australians know), Jimmy Barnes is a hard rocker (with all the trappings), famous as the lead singer of Cold Chisel and performing Australia's unofficial national
Sharon Metcalf
Mar 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: logan-bookclub, 2020
Before reading his memoir, if I thought of Jimmy Barnes I thought of him as the lead singer of Cold Chisel an iconic Aussie band. I thought of him as "Barnsey" that widely acclaimed solo artist and popular culture personality of the 80's and 90's. More recently I may have thought of him as the father of David Campbell an Australian musician and media personality. I suppose I should have, but what I didn't think was sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. Having read part 1 of his memoir, with the catchy tit ...more
I enjoyed Jimmy’s honesty, and it was interesting to learn about his childhood and upbringing, but all the stories were the same in the end and it became rather repetitive.

I’ll give the second one a go, and read up on the stories from his music career.

In a world of sex and drugs - I’m much more interested in the rock ‘n’ roll.
Kathy Fogarty
Dec 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I borrowed this from my brother-in-law, who’s a big fan. I was curious to read about his experience of growing up in Elizabeth, as I’d worked in this satellite suburb of Adelaide, and met many people whose childhoods were a lot like his, and whose families had migrated from England or Scotland with high hopes. Harrowing read. A vivid account of neglect and family violence and the devastation it causes children. I felt the deepest relief when Reg Barnes came along. It sounds like Jimmy has only i ...more
Sue Gerhardt Griffiths
Jun 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-books, audiobook
I listened to the audiobook.

Working Class Boy narrated by Jimmy, the author of this memoir, is just as fabulous as its sequel. Honest and raw and a little heart wrenching. Had tears in my eyes when he read the acknowledgments as well.

Entertaining and interesting to learn about his childhood which was loaded with danger, poverty, violence, drugs…. and triumphs.

Barnesy, you legend!
Jul 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an immensely emotional, and one suspects, cathartic book as Barnes looks unflinchingly at the violence, alcoholism and poverty that obliterated most of his childhood. I haven't seen reviews from others who grew up around Adelaide's northern suburbs, but I found reading this a deeply upsetting experience, as the ferocity of Barnes' anger and disgust often feels lodged in the suburb of Elizabeth itself. As a memoir, it is courageous and impactful, but I can't help feeling a twinge at the k ...more
Emma Monfries
Apr 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was really lucky to have the opportunity to read this book all at once in a night and day. This allowed me to immerse myself in the story completely, and to love it. Not all memoirs follow a nice, clear narrative arc, and this one begins in a disjointed fashion, which made me turn back at times thinking I'd missed what I needed to know, but then it flows into a more linear story which was easier to follow. There were many gaps and silences in the story that suggest that the experiences of the ...more
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-ebooks
I would give this book a 3 and a half to 4 star rating. The first third of the book is a little repetitive, in the sense we learn that all good Scots like to drink and fight. We're told that a lot by Jimmy. But as his story progresses, we see just how much of that shapes his life. Jimmy lived a childhood that no child should ever have to endure. But he blames noone. That makes him an incredibly strong person. It would be easy to blame a lot and hold grudges with what Jimmy went through. Working ...more
Nov 03, 2016 rated it liked it
This was an interesting read. I grew up watching Cold Chisel on a Saturday night at the local pubs. I knew he partied hard and had the Rock n Roll lifestyle but I didn't realise how much of this was because of his childhood. I enjoyed the book, but just felt by the end there was too much about him and his mates fighting and beating up whoever they wanted to. I didn't realise that this book was just about his childhood and it finished when he just joined Cold Chisel, so am looking forward to the ...more
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
So it seems many people loved this book, for me it was okay! Clearly he had a very bleak and rough childhood, and if it had not been for Reg Barnes, and meeting certain people, who helped him find his way into music, goodness knows where he would have ended up!
I read this in 48 hours, not because it was hard to put down, but because I wanted it over!
Would I recommend this book, yes to a major fan of Jimmy Barnes, but to someone who wasn't, probably not!
I will say this, if he writes a book about
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography-memoir
As the title suggests this book covers Jimmy Barnes early life. I'm not a Cold Chisel or Barnesy fan but I'd heard good things about this biography and his harrowing childhood and family life growing up in SA after his family emigrated from Scotland . I think this book could have been condensed into about 6 chapters, some of it just wasn't that interesting. Jimmy wrote that this was the book he needed to write, before he writes the story of his career, fame, marriage and family. I'm just too sur ...more
Teresa Comacchio
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book so much more than I thought I would. Was fascinated by immigrant life in Elizabeth. In several parts, I admired Barnesy's honesty and openness. Heard he's writing the next memoir, which he says is tougher than this one. Looking forward to that one. ...more
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I would never have read this book were it not for recommendations, and I would have really missed something. I’ve been expounding Jimmy Barnes' memoir to anyone who will listen (and possibly boring a few in the process) but for anyone from Australia, and particularly from Adelaide, this book is likely to be an eye-opener. It’s a miracle and so much to his credit that he made it through. ...more
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Just wow. Every fortunate teenager that thinks they are having it tough should read about Barnsey’s childhood. My god it made me feel like parent of the year. I love the simple dialect in his story. It made it feel ‘authentic’ and in his words. It wouldn’t Jimmy if it was too refined.
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it

“Dad suddenly went quiet…and then bang! He punched a hole in the front door. This was a heavy fire door so I don’t know how he did it. Then he put his hand through the hole he had just made, opened the door, came in and sat down, and began to calmly watch television as if nothing had happened. He never said a word. The silence was frightening. Mum ran to the bedroom and came out with a stiletto-heeled shoe and started screaming, ‘I’m sick of you!’, hitting him on the back of the head with the he
Michelle Crawford
Mar 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I don't really like to rate people's story-everyone has one. But Jimmy Barnes opened his heart and soul in this book. I felt so many emotions reading this. It really is surprising he is still alive. I think my eyes were also opened to how some people really live-not just in 3rd world countries-here in Australia. I can't wait for his next book. ...more
Leon Clarke
May 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great book, made me cry a few times
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Although this book has all the elements of a misery memoir – domestic violence, alcoholism, deprivation, drug abuse etc., “Working Class Boy” is more than that – it is the story of a young man yearning to escape. Filled with dark humour to temper the trauma of his childhood, Barnes tells some yarns that puts you right inside his head, (yarns to make your hair curl) allowing you to discover how Australia’s favourite rocker came to be the man he is today.
“Working Class Boy” begins with Barnes’ ch
Michelle See
Nov 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Loved it!
Best autobiography I have read in years!
I felt like Jimmy was actually telling me his story face to face.
Whilst he is a Glaswegian to his core, many of his childhood experiences resonate with this Sydney born girl.
He's a man of my own generation & I understood exactly what he was saying.
Can't wait for the next book.
Paula Tierney
Oct 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Totally heart wrenching story but what a resilient man! Really recommend this book couldn't put it down! ...more
Michelle Path
Dec 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A very interesting read about one of Australia's most popular singers. It is a haunting but honest read about Jimmy Barne's childhood. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. ...more
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“stormed out of the house after fighting. I’m sure our neighbours had their own problems, but not like ours. To me, no one did. At school I made up for all the things we didn’t have by trying really hard. I became top of my class. I was smart but I also tried harder than everyone else because I wanted to feel as good as the rest of the kids. I didn’t want anybody to know what was going on at home.” 0 likes
“There were times throughout my life when I didn’t think I was going to make it. But I am so glad that I did. You have to be able to hold your head up high and say, ‘Fuck it, I made some big mistakes, but everybody does. I can live with mine.” 0 likes
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