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Working Class Boy

Narrated by: Jimmy Barnes
Length: 8 hrs and 38 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (978 ratings)

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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)

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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.

6 people found this helpful

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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.

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interesting

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

4 people found this helpful

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Respect!

A heartbreaking, raw, harrowing but ultimately uplifting memoir.
I've been a fan of Jimmy Barnes since childhood and was vaguely aware that he'd come from a tough background but nothing prepared me for this story.
Honestly he's not the best audiobook reader so stick with it even if you find him a bit hard to listen to (sorry, Jimmy!) but in fairness it wouldn't have the same impact if someone else had read it. Looking forward to Part 2.

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Outstanding!

Tough story to listen too. Very hard though to find a place to stop listening. An outstanding autobiography. Very well read by Jimmy and that really added to the story. Will definitely be listening to his next book.

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  • Ian
  • 09-04-2020

Bloody good job mate!

It made me sad to realise just how tough Jimmy had it growing up in Elizabeth.
I was just a few years behind him being born there mid 60’s and living or working there for over 50 years.
I knew other kids weren’t as fortunate as me when I was at the local primary school but had no idea this level of deprivation existed so close by.
Thanks Jimmy for helping me reflect on my childhood. I could visualise easily lots of the areas you described around the town.
By the way mate, I reckon all the drugs and booze did wonders for your memory, or maybe it was the constant fear that heightened your senses. My memories are nowhere near as detailed as yours. How’s your hearing mate... tinnitus from all the noise? I have and only had a small portion of the rock and role you’ve had.

You can take the boy out of Elizabeth but you can’t take Elizabeth out of the boy!
Jimmy has kept in touch with his roots, the location I mean.
“Their shutting down our town” almost brought me to tears when it first came out.
It and the video clip were in a way dragging me through my life story. I’d just left Holden after closing it up along with my 32yr work
life there. Jimmy came and played a private gig to the Holden crew on our last day after we were all bused to the Adelaide Oval.
This story is so well told and helps you get to know Jimmy through his words which roll out high paced like a freight train. He’s on a roll the whole way through telling his story and it’s like he can’t wait to get it all out but is actually reliving every moment as he tells it. This has to be experienced as an audio book, Jimmy’s sense of humour and accents for family voices are a treat. Anyway a hard copy would almost need to be covered in blood and dirt to be as good.

From one Elizabethan to another...
Bloody good job mate !!

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fantastic!

absolutely loved it!! wow, what an eye opener. thanks Jimmy for sharing this incredible insight into your world.

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Amazing and candid account

An amazing and honest insight to the early life of one of Australia's greatest rockers. I grew up loving all of Jimmy's work and as much as I love his songs this story is amongst some of his best work. Thanks for sharing Jimmy.

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worth every minute!!

truly amazing book!!! listening to Jimmy mimic his mum & Scottish relatives is hilarious and gives comedic relief to what is definitely a sad story but shows how one can overcome everything that life throws at them. Well done Jimmy!!!

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Great

Love Jimmy. Love his book.
He certainly had a rough childhood. I’m glad he ended up being happy.

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  • FORMER Kindle Customer
  • 10-09-2019

From the heart through experience.

If you think you had it rough as a kid, just read/listen to this autobiography in love and survival. It will grab you by the balls and not let go. Even if you do not have balls, you will be glad of it because you will still feel that special pain from the squeeze. Maybe even from the kicks with steel toes.

This book makes you feel there as a street kid with nothing but hope, and not be afraid to fight for it. You can feel the punches hit best with Audiobook, but the book is painful, too.

The description is real by someone who was there and felt the punches and kicks as either giver or receiver. It hurts either way. The language is more polite than what was probably said, but it is real enough and more understandable without accents to murder the words.

The sex and language are not minor characters, but are not as explicit as reality. Your dirty imagination will translate just fine. Remember, these were kids out of control on drugs and alcohol, not Disney characters trying to be perfect.

If you can finish it, then your next book will be the sequel. Spoiler alert! The author lived to read what he wrote for both books. if that's not enough, seek some of the band's music out to remember a different time and a distant place that still exists in drugged memory of those few who survived.

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  • John
  • 12-08-2019

Really good to hear Jimmy's life story

It was good to hear what he went through in his young life of Jimmy

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  • Carl
  • 23-05-2019

Brilliant and entertaining life

Enjoyed learning and hearing the ups and downs of a great performers life and times.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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

1 person found this helpful