Disclaimer – I am a massive hardcore Jimmy Barnes fan and I’m very well aware that for a 23 year old British female, that its weird to be so into an 80s Aussie rockstar. But what can I say? My mum has great music taste influenced by a year living in Australia that she passed on to me.
It was a massive dream of mine to see him live, but I never imagined he would tour here. But he did, and the 13th December was a life changer. He is incredible live even so many years after his rise to stardom. I then realised my fellow hardcore fan of a mother bought his two memoirs – Working Class Boy and Working Class Man.
The first book, Working Class Boy deals with Jimmy’s childhood in Glasgow and his initial move to Australia with his very dysfunctional family. He’s so upfront and honest about it, without laying blame at anyone’s door that its fairly refreshing. And he doesn’t hesitate in showing himself warts and all and giving you all the details as he remembers (and by his own admission there are a lot of hazy bits). He shows the readers how music was his shelter from his problems but also made his issues worse.
The theme continues with Working Class Man when his band, Cold Chisel is formed and he has everything he could wish for – a wife, children, a surrogate family in his band and money in the bank, but its hard to escape those origins and a deep-set unhappiness. The warts and all approach really comes to the fore in this book, and Jimmy freely admits in places that he acted all kinds of wrong and messed up. I admire that about him really, and the way its presented shows the struggle between an addiction and wanting to do the best for his family while making the most of his career and his love of music.
Even if you’re not a fan of the man himself, I can’t recommend this book enough because it’s more than a rockstar memoir. It’s a tale of fighting through a lot of demons to happiness and some semblance of normality.