Working Class Boy faces up to past

Francesca MannGeraldton Guardian
Former Cold Chisel vocalist Jimmy Barnes has finally faced his demons, sharing his early childhood memories in his memoir, Working Class Boy.
Camera IconFormer Cold Chisel vocalist Jimmy Barnes has finally faced his demons, sharing his early childhood memories in his memoir, Working Class Boy. Credit: Stephanie Barnes

After spending more than 50 years running from his problems, prolific singer-songwriter Jimmy Barnes has finally decided to face his demons head on.

In September, the Scottish-born musician released Working Class Boy, a memoir about his childhood.

Finding the writing process somewhat cathartic, Barnes is now travelling around Australia with his Working Class Boy: An Evening of Songs & Stories tour, a spoken word performance intertwined with music.

This weekend, Barnes will bring his acclaimed show to Queens Park Theatre in the hope his story will help others in the community.

“The issues that I lived with — poverty, domestic violence and abuse — is stuff that’s not really talked about often,” the 60-year-old said.

“If you go out in public and talk about this, it shines a light onto this dark subject.

“I don’t want to go up there and depress people, but if I can talk about and show that there’s hope and let people know they’re not alone, then it’s got to be a good thing all round.”

The ex-Cold Chisel frontman’s memoir covers his early years, culminating when he was 17-years-old and about to move to Adelaide. Although Barnes admits it wasn’t easy putting pen to paper and unleashing the memories he’s kept locked away for decades, he said it was the right time to do it.

“I’ve been pushing this stuff under the surface since I was a kid,” he said.

“But if you’re running away from everything, eventually you’re either going to stumble or it’s going to catch you.

“If you turn and face it, it’s a lot easier than running from it.”

Calling the Stories & Songs tour an “emotional ride”, Barnes will also tell his life story through music, offering a rare glimpse into the songs that helped shape the musician we know today.

From an early age, Barnes was passionate about music and his family always sang around the house.

As a child Barnes joined the school choir, and later he played in a band, finding music offered him a chance to express his emotions without focusing on the issues at hand.

“Singing is something that’s always given me joy,” he said.

“When I joined the band, a lot of these things that have haunted me for years, they gave me a way to get that out of my system.

“Music’s been a great gift to me. It has helped me a lot in my life.” Barnes knows his book and tour isn’t suddenly going to fix all the problems in the world, but he hopes bringing unspoken issues to the table will get the ball rolling.

“I’m not going to end domestic violence, it’s not going to cure it, but talking about it is the start,” he said.

“Domestic violence lives in the dark and is unspoken about and it’s becoming more obvious that more and more people have been affected by it.

“If you can see people affected by it, reach out to them.

“Some people just need somebody to talk to, to get some advice and hope.”

Barnes will perform at Queens Park Theatre on Saturday.

Tickets for the performance be bought via qpt.cgg.wa.gov.au.

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