Tag Archives: Working Class Man

Every Home Is Now A Stage.

Today, I’ve had a rather indulgent day spent listening to all sorts of musical offerings all geared towards helps us get through the coronacrisis. I really appreciated these offerings and wanted to share them with you.  I apologize that the layout on this list is a bit haphazard. However, I had trouble uploading some of the links and they came in a variety formats. I’ll warn you that if you’re meant to be working from home or getting something done, these will pose a major distraction, but well worth it. I’ve had a wonderful day.

What A Wonderful World.

I saw this on TV last night and it took my breath away. This clip was put together by musical maistro Jon Foreman and the Aussie Pops Orchestra to raise many for Australia’s struggling live performers whose livelihoods have been smashed by the coronavirus. Musos struggle to make ends meet at the best of times and these must count close to the worst for those trying to make a living from live performances. Please give what you can. Our daughter has performed under Jon Foreman at School Spectacular and I just love how he’s been able to get his musical connections together like this. It’s very special.

Jimmy & Jane Barnes

Rock legend Jimmy Barnes needs no introduction here in Australia. However, for those of you living under a rock or something overseas, he’s the front man for Cold Chisel, but has also gone solo and performed with his son David Campbell. Moreover, he’s written two incredible books...Working Class Boy and Working Class Man.

While there are thousands and upon thousands of Australians who quite literally worship the ground he walks on as probably Australia’s greatest living Rock legend, I have only had a passing interest in Cold Chisel and my connection began with reading Working Class Boy and meeting him at a book signed down at our local bookshop. He was very different in person to what I’d expected and much more humble. There was definitely more than a note of self-doubt, which surprised me. Of course, at this point, he was making the transition from music to writing and I got the genuine impression he was actually surprised I’d finished his book and that seemed to touch him a lot, especially given this very brief encounter. I also want to tell you that I embarrassed myself with my usual disinhibited candor. Reading his book I was so struck by the abuse and severe hardship he experienced as a child, that I wanted to give him a hug and a matchbox car. That was what mum had always bought for my brother’s friends for their birthdays back in the day.

Anyway, it turned out that Jimmy Barnes and his wife Jane were in 14 days quarantine after returning home from an incredible personal holiday (including travelling on the Orient Express). So, they started undergoing creative challenges and posting them on his Facebook page. They are so personal and draw you right into the very heart of their home and family and are absolutely beautiful and certainly broke down that veil of loneliness and isolation we’re feeling at the moment.

Here are a few links:

Here’s a photograph of Jimmy getting his haircut by his wife Jane

Scroll down the comments and you’ll see a photo of a little dog who is called “Jimmy Barnes”. Follow this thread through and all sorts of dog owners have posted photos of dogs named after famous people. I should add ours. Zac is officially “Isaac Newton”.

Jimmy Barnes Singing Danny Boy

 

Andrew Lloyd Webber

Andrew Lloyd Webber needs no introduction, but I do want to let you know that he ill be screening one of his musicals online every Friday for the next few weeks. It will be available to watch on the YouTube channel The Show Must Go On for 48 hours, starting on Friday at 7pm GMT. Next weekend’s musical will be Lloyd Webber’s 2012 production of Jesus Christ Superstar, starring Tim Minchin, Mel C. and Chris Moyles. In the eantime, enjoy this offering from Jesus Christ Superstar and perhps you could even send him through a clip of you singing long.

Kansas City Ballet: Me, Dorothy…and This Road to Oz

Corona Yoga

 

Stayin Alive

Taronga Zoo

Taronga Zoo here in Sydney is currently closed to visitors. However, they’ve set up  Taronga TV and while it doesn’t strictly involve music and performance, I thought youd enjoy this very cute video of the baby koala being hand fed.

Australian National Gallery

Lastly, we’re heading off to Australia’s National Gallery in Canberra where they’re currently holding two online exhibitions….

Matisse & Picasso

Hugh Ramsay

Of course, there’s so much more but these will keep you entertained, distracted and unproductive for at least a few days.

Hope you enjoy.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Jimmy Barnes: What do you Say when you meet a rock legend?

This morning, we rocked into our local bookshop to meet Australian rock legend, Jimmy Barnes,  lead singer of Australian rock band, Cold Chisel. Jimmy’s just recently released his memoir: Working Class Boy. (By the way, as I read those lines out in my head, I’m hearing the voice of Molly Meldrum,  the inimitable host of music show Countdown back in the day.)

So, what do you say when you meet a rock legend and you’re way too old to even think about throwing your underwear anywhere but the dirty clothes basket? When you’re visiting your local bookshop and meeting him as an AUTHOR…a rock legend in a different guise.

I’m not there as a gushing groupie but as a reader who loves his writing and is madly underlining bits throughout his book and loving his writing style as much as his storytelling abilities.

autograph-jimmy-barnes

Indeed, meeting Jimmy Barnes the author is a long way from singing  “cheap wine and a three-day growth” at the top of my lungs at  Schoolies’ Week,  Surfers Paradise back in the Summer of 1987.

Rather, through the book I’m meeting James Swan, the little boy behind the legend. A little boy growing up on the battlefields of Glasgow as a “working class boy”.

To be perfectly honest, while reading his story , compassion was swelling inside my heart wanting to burst its banks.  I wanted to hug that boy, stick a bandaid on his heart and do want mothers do to make their own kids feel better. I also wanted to tell that young boy that it’s going to be okay. That he’s going to find his way out. That despite the war and violence of his childhood, that he will find a place beyond numbing his soul. That while he mightn’t completely escape his battle scars,  that he will find love, family and some kind of peace…along with the trappings of being “Jimmy Barnes” and Cold Chisel.

As he said: “Life’s good…I’m fit, I’m healthy, I’m doing yoga – who would have thought? Yoga and medication … I mean meditation! And the family’s great, Jane’s great. And I think I’m singing better than I’ve ever sung…” https://www.jimmybarnes.com/biography/

Not unsurprisingly, Australian actor and author, Magda Szubanksi described Working Class Boy as: “Viseral, brave, honest: it’s like Angela’s Ashes  meets Trainspotting– only more brutal. A deep, guttural  howl of a book, it speaks of the pain and hurt that haunt so many men. And it may just save lives”.

I sure hope so because I know there are many of us who’ve yearned to feel numb. Stop the unending anguish and feel nothing at all.

Jimmy writes: “When I first started taking drugs and drinking, I found the fear that had filled me since I was small almost disappeared. The fear of not being wanted. The fear of letting my guard down. The fear of letting anyone in. The fear of being found out. The fear of not being worthy. The fear of looking into my own eyes. It was gone. All of it. As long as I stayed smashed. [1]

Reading the book, my heart is breaking. Forget that he grows up to become one Australia’s greatest ever rock legends with legions of fans. He was once a boy battling on the streets of Glasgow where violence was a way of life. Indeed, they lived and breathed violence.

How could anyone survive this?

I know what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger but hey, these days we think twice before letting our kids ride their bikes on the streets or go to the park… even if we’re with them. We read aloud to them every night and keep telling them we love them. We might also tuck our kids into bed a night, kiss them on the cheek and wish them sweet dreams. It’s not a perfect world and domestic violence is huge. Life is no picnic for many families in Australia now, but that wasn’t my childhood. My Dad was my hero who could save me from anything and anyone and my Mum was mild-mannered. Wouldn’t throw a look at someone else, let alone a punch.

However, there’s no bubble wrap on the streets of Cowcaddens, Glasgow.

If you are old enough to remember the chilling murder of two year old James Bulger[2] by two ten year old boys, you can’t help seeing the similarities with what Jimmy survived. When he was four “myself and another kid of about the same age made the mistake of walking out of our street into the next without an escort.[3]”  “Next thing I knew I was running as fast as I could, dodging a hail of rocks and glass, but I got away. My friend was still frozen and couldn’t move at all. They pelted him with rocks and bottles until they were bored and then they cut him up and set fire to the shelter. He ended up in hospital for a long time…Was life in Scotland that bad that even little kids had no chance? It seemed no one had a chance.[4]

Jimmy’s world was brutal. Not that he throws blame. It was what it was and he shares that journey with a dark wit and the philosophical insights you’d hope for from a songwriter, who releases the cry of the heart through music.

So, what did I say to Jimmy?

Well, before I get to that, let me tell you what’s been running round inside my head in the lead up.

I’d been told that they’re trying to get 200 people through the bookshop in 2 hours and when I said I was thinking of bringing down my son’s guitar for a photo, it was suggested that was a bit over the top and that it was going to be a very fleeting meet and greet.

queing-for-jimmy-barnes

Queuing up to see Jimmy Barnes at Book Bazaar.

So, I was intrigued about what, if anything, I would pick up about Jimmy Barnes the person when he was just a face, a signature and the next person was literally breathing down my neck and the “queue Police” would have me out the door before I’d even smiled for the camera.

Obviously I wasn’t expecting much. I mean…how can you connect with someone in seconds? And besides, we’re talking about an uber-famous King of Rock. Sure, I might be reviewing his book for my blog but aside from my long lens, I was a nobody in a very long line of nobodies.

BUT…!!!

I had read some of his book and that made me A READER. It seems even Jimmy Barnes appreciates his readers. Values someone who isn’t just there for an autograph and a selfie, but has actually stepped inside the cover and read his story.

book-signing-jimmy-barnes

Jimmy Barnes signing our books.

So, what did I say? What did I say?

So, as he’s signing our book and the queue cop has doubled as a photographer capable of handling my Nikon SLR without flinching (they always have to ask me where the button is), yours truly doesn’t address Jimmy Barnes the rock legend but Jimmy Barnes the boy and says:

“As I was reading your book, I wanted to hug the boy. Give him a matchbox car. Something. “

I should’ve been embarrassed about my gush of emotion but since I’ve never been the cool kid, why start now?

Then, Jimmy looked up at me. Looked me right in my eyes making contact. Not just eye contact, but that experience of two souls meeting and said: “we survived”.

My husband Geoff said that once he saw that I’d read the book and spoke to him from the heart, his whole demeanour changed. I shook his hand and there was warmth, personality and a moment just between the two of us. So, it was there in a crowded bookshop in a long and winding queue, that I knew that I’d really met Jimmy Barnes.

I feel so blessed.

Do you have any memories of Jimmy Barnes and Cold Chisel? I’d love to hear them. I will be following this up with a more detailed review soon but if you’ve read the book, please share your thoughts and any links.

xx Rowena

Here are a few of my favourite songs:

Sources

[1] Jimmy Barnes, Working Class Boy, Harper Collins Publishers, Sydney. P. 1.

[2] James Patrick Bulger (16 March 1990 – 12 February 1993) was a boy from Kirkby, Merseyside, England, who was murdered on 12 February 1993, at the age of two. He was abducted, tortured and murdered by two ten-year-old boys https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_James_Bulger.

[3] Jimmy Barnes, Working Class Boy, Harper Collins Publishers, Sydney, 2016 p. 17.

[4] Ibid p. 18.

Jimmy Barnes Official Web Site: https://www.jimmybarnes.com/