Get Your Free Audiobook

Working Class Boy

Narrated by: Jimmy Barnes
Length: 8 hrs and 38 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (732 ratings)
Non-member price: $52.43
After 30 days, Audible is $16.45/mo. Cancel anytime.

Publisher's Summary

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.

©2016 Jimmy Barnes (P)2017 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

Critic Reviews

"A stunning piece of work - relentless, earnest, shockingly vivid." ( The Australian)
"Jimmy Barnes' 'memoir of running away' is a tale of sheer survival, the horror of a violent upbringing snapping at his heels 'like it was yesterday'." ( The Sydney Morning Herald)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    591
  • 4 Stars
    103
  • 3 Stars
    27
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    6

Performance

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    557
  • 4 Stars
    89
  • 3 Stars
    25
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    4

Story

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    554
  • 4 Stars
    93
  • 3 Stars
    21
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    4
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Raw & honest autobiography

Everyone has a story, but not many are as horrific as this. An inspiring story of survival & I guess we'll have to wait for the next book to read about his success.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Heartfelt, raw and honest

Without a doubt the best biography I have ever read. Rather than focus on Jimmys conquests and make excuses for the way he was bought up, he embraces it and tells relatable and real life stories in the purest form. Rarely does this book focus on music. Rather it focuses on emotions and humanity and it is brutally honest at times. Couldn’t recommend it more highly and I can’t wait for the next book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

interesting

i grew up listening to cold chisel. there are so many things here that i never knew about jimmy barnes.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Karen
  • Gold Coast Australia
  • 08-01-2019

Brought to tears

Jimmy Barnes makes his story come alive. I have this on kindle as well so was reading and listening depending on the circumstance. I loved hearing Jimmys accent come through and his portrayal of his mother was hilarious and well done.
I lived the life with him and cried along with him.
It is a true in-depth look of a lower class immigrant family in the 60’s.
I’m going to read the next one then I’m going to go back and listen again.
Thank you for an amazing story that feels close to my upbringing but also gives insight into what goes on in other people’s lives.
Cloak and mirrors hey Jim!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Speechless

Never been so unhappy to come to the end of a book as both of these. Truly incredible.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Incredible!

Full of shock, struggle, resilience, love, learning, and friendship. Jimmy tells it all very well.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • chris
  • wollongong, Australia
  • 18-12-2018

Working class boy

I loved it, probably a depiction of a lot of people’s lives that came to Oz those days. Felt really sad for jimmy for his childhood , glad he has come through it all! He is a good wee story teller 👍

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Raw and Real

Loved that Jimmy Barnes narrated this book. Found it hard to finish though. Still very raw and real.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

What a fantastic read

Thank you so much Jimmy.
what an exceptional story and also story telling.
I was compelled from start to finish.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Took me back.

The story was raw and seemed truthful and I found myself reflecting to a time of my life of similar situations and hardships growing up in Australia in the 60s and 70s. Good on you Jimmy Barnes for opening your life to us all not only to help in your healing but to help others like myself. From one fellow musician to a another. 👍🎸

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Matt Lockwood
  • 30-10-2017

Bloody Brilliant.

I binge listened in one sitting. Couldn't stop. There are dark tales of hard post War Scotland and redneck towns in South Australia- but the laughs and yarns throughout just had me hooked. Jimmy Barnes is one of Australia's favourite rock stars. This is a brave story, read by the man himself. Well done Jimmy Barnes- I'll see you at a book signing.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Peter M.
  • 25-06-2018

Australia's best kept secret

I have been following Jimmy Barnes for many many years now and have read his other books and many articles about his life in Glasgow, the move to Elizabeth in Australia and his success both with Cold Chisel and as a solo artist, I have met him on many occasions and find him to be a very humble person, I had previously read this book but wanted to now listen to Jimmy tell his story, hearing him open up about his life, with all the warts included, as they say, is really emotional, I have also seen Jimmy on his 'Working Class Boy' tour and again found it to be a very emotional experience.
The book is a must read for any Chisel/Barnes fan and a truly inspirational read for anyone else.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mr J Clark
  • 02-02-2018

True Working Class Boy

Wow!
What a life that poor boy had!
But hold on that was how it was back in the day!
Absolutely loved the story told by Jimmy and have the utmost respect and love for him.
I was in Australia in 1985 and was lucky enough to be introduced to Jimmy Barnes’s music by my Aussie mates and blessed to see him live at Bombay Rock Surfers Paradise.
Haven’t stopped listening since!
Can’t wait for Working class Man to come out on Audio