Jimmy Barnes Working Class Boy - The Soundtracks

(Out Friday 17 August 2018 through Bloodlines)

When I started writing Working Class Boy, I had no idea how the book would even finish so I certainly never thought it would end up as a movie and an album. All I knew was that I had things I needed to get out of my system. The simple act of sitting at the computer unlocked a lot of memories. Fuzzy and hard to see at first, they came into focus the more I wrote. I can see now that these events were waiting until I was ready and able to deal with them before they presented themselves to me. I found that once my hidden family history was out and on paper, I seemed to feel a bit better. So the whole writing process was disturbing and enlightening at the same time.

Then I went on the road with a tour we called Working Class Boy: An Evening Of Stories & Songs and it was both disturbing and enlightening too. I ended up doing about 50 shows around Australia, New Zealand and the UK. Each night I told stories from the book and shared my darkest secrets with the audience. At those gigs I also sang some songs that had various connections to things I had written about. Most of the songs probably didn’t seem like obvious choices but they felt obvious to me. Among other things they were the songs that took me back to Glasgow. The songs that I remembered my family singing when we moved to Australia. The songs that inspired me to join a band and the songs that had unlocked memories when I was struggling to write my first book. There were a few better known ones toward the end of the show as well so ultimately this unusual set-list helped me tell my story.

The live recordings from Sydney’s State Theatre that you’ll hear on Disc 1 of this album were all made at the final Australian show of that tour. Producer Kevin Shirley has helped edit together some talking from that night to help set up each piece of music. It’s all performed by a stripped back band featuring my son Jackie on drums and piano, my son-in-law Benjamin Rodgers on bass and guitars and my daughter Mahalia on vocals with guest appearances from my son David Campbell and by brother-in-law, Diesel. I know it wasn’t easy for all these members of my family to sit through my dark childhood tales night after night but I don’t think I could have got through that darkness without their support.

The audiences also helped me. The more I toured the more I realised that a lot of people had been through similar childhoods to mine. I was not alone and neither were they. Total strangers broke down and cried as they shared their own stories of family violence.

As we took the show from town to town I also met people who are still living in abusive relationships. I had to suggest that they get proper help from qualified people at places like Lifeline rather than seeking answers from a rock singer who’s struggling to keep his own life together. Even so, I think we can all still do something to help people like this. Being able to talk about things has helped me break down barriers that previously stopped me from getting on with my life. So if you know someone who is living with family violence, reach out to them. Let them know that they’re not alone. Encourage them to talk about it. It’s just a first step but it’s an essential one.

Anyway, after all these intense experiences with the book and the tour I thought I could finally try to put my childhood behind me, but I was wrong. Somehow my mate Mark Joffe convinced me to let him turn Working Class Boy into a film, so by the time you read this he will have told the same story to even more people in a different way. I trusted Mark to make a movie that was true to the raw feel of the book and the stage version. We were both fans of documentaries like Senna and Amy so we wanted to stick to that approach rather than doing cheesy recreations with actors. Both of us also respected the way Martin Scorsese’s film, The Last Waltz used some soundstage performances so we adopted a similar approach with parts of the soundtrack for Jimmy Barnes: Working Class Boy. We put together a much bigger band than we’d had for the stage production and there was no audience present for the recordings but we still captured everything totally live. Then a few weeks later I did something similar with the fantastic Australian Chamber Orchestra after Richard Tognetti wrote a beautiful string arrangement for a Randy Newman song that means a lot to me. It was a real career highlight and it’s now one of the eight soundstage recordings from the film which make up Disc 2 of this album.

The book, the live show, the movie and these albums all tell the story of my childhood in similar but different ways. As I look back at them though I can see one particularly strong common thread – the way that the violence and abuse in my life was always driven by poverty. No matter how you tell this story the crushing impact of poverty is always at the core of everything. We do live in ‘the lucky country’, but look around. There are families all over Australia struggling to put food on the table or to keep a roof over their children’s heads. Yet we allow our governments to cut spending on schools and on health care for families that need it most. I don’t want to stand on a soap box and preach, or take sides with any political party, but I think we all need to reach out to people who are less fortunate than ourselves. If we ignore these social issues they will get worse. Most people who grow up in circumstances like I did, grow up with problems, just like I did. The cycle is backhanded down from generation to generation. The boys – and girls – don’t stand a chance.

I was lucky to escape my childhood. It took many decades and a lot of love and support from other people but I eventually got the chance to deal with some of those problems. There were many times when I thought I wasn’t going to make it. There are a lot of us who don’t make it. Our jails are overcrowded and the suicide rate, particularly among our young people, is way too high. These are cries for help that no one is hearing. I hope this album can help get more people to start listening.

– Jimmy Barnes


Album 1 – Working Class Boy ‘Stories & Songs’ – live from the State Theatre, Sydney

  1. Glasgow/The Dark Isle-Scotland The Brave (Instrumental)
  2. Granny’s Party Song (spoken)
  3. Heartaches By The Number
  4. My Dad (spoken)
  5. Around The World
  6. Circus Animals (spoken)
  7.     The Lion Sleeps Tonight (feat. Mahalia Barnes)
  8. City of Tomorrow (spoken)
  9. Mahalia and The Imitation of Life (spoken)
  10. The Upper Room
  11. Runaway (spoken)
  12. Texas Girl At The Funeral Of Her Father
  13. Reg Barnes (spoken)
  14. Reg’s Piano / Für Elise (Instrumental)
  15. Elizabeth (spoken)
  16. Dark End Of The Street
  17. David (spoken)
  18. Reflections Of My Life (feat. David Campbell)
  19. Ike & Tina (spoken)
  20. A Fool In Love (feat. Mahalia Barnes)
  21. Steve & Don (spoken)
  22. Flame Trees
  23. I Could’ve Been Dead As Well (spoken)
  24. Four Walls
  25. Safe With Mum (spoken)
  26. When The War Is Over
  27. Still Got A Long Way To Go (feat. Diesel)

Album 2 – Working Class Boy: The Movie Soundtrack

  1. Around The World
  2. The Lion Sleeps Tonight (feat. Mahalia Barnes)
  3. Texas Girl At the Funeral of Her Father (feat. the Australian Chamber Orchestra)
  4. Dark End Of The Street
  5. A Fool In Love (feat. Mahalia Barnes)
  6. The Upper Room
  7. When The War Is Over
  8. Still Got A Long Way To Go (feat. Diesel)

* A Deluxe version of the 2CD release is available for pre-order here and includes an extra track, ‘Duke’s Waltz’, which was written and recorded specifically for the live show.
** Vinyl Album contains 8 songs from the Movie Soundstage only.

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