Working Class Man

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This article is about the single. For the 1986 film released in Australia as "Working Class Man", see Gung Ho (film).
"Working Class Man"
Single by Jimmy Barnes
from the album For the Working Class Man
B-side Boys Cry Out For War
Released 1985 (Australia)
1986 (U.S.)
Format 7"
Recorded 1985
Genre Hard rock
Label Mushroom Records, Geffen Records
Writer(s) Jonathan Cain
Producer(s) Jonathan Cain
Jimmy Barnes singles chronology
"I'd Die to Be With You Tonight"
"Working Class Man"
"Ride the Night Away"

"Working Class Man" is a song performed and made famous by Australian singer Jimmy Barnes. It was written by Journey keyboardist Jonathan Cain. "Working Class Man" is generally considered Barnes' signature song as a solo artist.[1]


The song first appeared on the 1985 album For the Working Class Man and was the first single released from the album. The single spent 14 weeks in the Australian charts, entering at #21 and peaking at #5.[2] It also spent seven weeks in the New Zealand charts, peaking at #34.

It was later played over the credits of the 1986 Ron Howard film Gung Ho, where in some countries, including Australia, the film was released as Working Class Man. Barnes also performed "Working Class Man" at the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

Barnes has said of the song, "I went to America just after Bodyswerve and met Jonathan Cain, who was in The Babys and Journey. It means a lot to me. Most people thought it was written about me, but it was actually written about my audience - staunch, honest people, who work and who care."[3] Barnes said that, due to the "great band" he had, the recording was done in about 5 takes. "It was fun to sing, so I was really pleased. I didn't realise how much of an impact it would have as an image centre for the next five years."[4]

The music video was filmed in cane fields near Cairns in Queensland and at Port Kembla's Steelmaking plant in Australia: The Director/DOP of the clip was Chris Frazer and the Producer/2nd unit Camera was Mark Lovick.

"Working Class Anthem"[edit]

At the 2003 Melbourne Comedy Festival, comedian Adam Hills performed a popular version of Australia's national anthem "Advance Australia Fair" to the tune of "Working Class Man" titled the "Working Class Anthem". He released it as a single the following year.

Hills performed the song for Barnes when he appeared as a guest on the television program Spicks and Specks.

Cover versions[edit]

In 1993, Australian John Schumann covered the song on his album True Believers. In 2004, Australian singer/songwriter Shannon Noll recorded a cover of "Working Class Man". It was released as a B-side track for his second single "Drive". Australian Adam Brand recorded a cover of the song with his band "Adam Brand and the Outlaws". It appeared as the fifth track on their self-titled album released in 2016.

Lacy J. Dalton released a version in 1986 that reached number 16 in the US Country charts. Barnes said of this version, "She was managed by a guy who used to manage Split Enz, a Kiwi guy, who took the song to her. She did a great version, but it's got a real twang."[3]


  1. ^ "Jimmy Barnes Media Man Australia". Retrieved 2012-03-15. 
  2. ^ The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Guinness, 1995, p879
  3. ^ a b Jeff Jenkins (2007). 50 Years of Rock in Australia. Melbourne: Wilkinson Publishing. p. 303. ISBN 9781921332111. 
  4. ^ Tracee Hutchison (1992). Your Name's On The Door. Sydney, New South Wales: ABC Enterprises. p. 86. ISBN 0-7333-0115-0. 

External links[edit]