Hindsight, Jimmy Barnes's 15th studio album, is a collection of re-recorded songs from throughout his career as a solo artist and with Cold Chisel, it features guests like Joe Bonamassa, Journey's Jonathan Cain and Neil Schon, Steven Van Zandt and others. We spoke to Jimmy in Australia (where the album topped the charts), and asked him to talk about six key tracks from his career.
**I’d Die To Be With You **“This brings back memories of trying to deal; with a solo career, after the break-up of Cold Chisel. I just didn’t know how to deal with it. Suddenly, I was out of my comfort zone, signed to Geffen and whisked to America to write with different people. It was like a factory, because I was working with someone, and then four hours later I was writing with someone else, and then four hours later a third party…and it went on and on.
“One of the writers I met was a guy called Chris Sanford. Now, he’d come up with John Waite’s Missing You, which had been a big hit. But Chris told me that he was hoping to save that for his own solo album. But, when John heard this and nicked it for himself. Anyway, I asked Chris how his solo record was going, and he said it was about three-quarters done. And he played me some of it. When I heard this song, I just told him that I had to have it, because I could sing it so much better than him. So, I went into the studio, got some great guys like Waddy Wachtel on guitar and Billy Payne of Little Feat on keyboards – and the song came to life. Chris heard what I’d done, and agreed I should have it.
“This was from the album, For The Working Class Man , and was a big hit. It kickstarted my solo career.”
No Second Prize
“This was again on For The Working Class Man. I wrote it in the last days of Cold Chisel, but then decided to save it for a rainy day. Little did I know that there would soon be a downpour, as Cold Chisel split up. It’s a very simple song about always trying your best and never giving in, and it became my anthem for a long time. I feel the sentiments resonated with my fans, and it was also the first single I put out as a solo artist, so it means a lot to me.”
Working Class Man
“Gary Gersch, who was my A&R guy at Geffen Records, introduced me to Jonathan Cain of Journey. But before we met Gary played me American Heartbeat, which Jonathan had just written. I have to say I didn’t like it, and never thought it would work for my voice. However, when I met Jonathan, he persuaded me to give it a go, against my better judgement.
“A week later, Jonathan called me and said he’d written a song that would suit me perfectly. It was titled Working Class Man. I was put off by the title itself, and just thought it would end up being cliched. However, Jonathan told me it wasn’t about me, but my fans. And then, when he played it to me, I really liked the song. So, I recorded it, and then went straight out on the road, Leaving Jonathan to mix it. A week later, he sent me a DAT tape of the mix, and I loved it. This really defined my sound, and that of the album it’s on [1985’s For The Working Class Man].”
**Flame Trees **“This was written by Cold Chisel keyboard player Don Walker with drummer Steve Prestwich . It’s on our 1984 album Twentieth Century. It really is a song about loneliness and longing. We didn’t know it at the time, but this was also about the end of Cold Chisel, which was about to happen. If you listen to the lyrics here, then you’ll understand what we went through when the band broke up.”
Lay Down Your Guns “I did this for my 1990 album Two Fires. And it taught me a big lesson about never saying you’re finished with an album. I thought I had it all wrapped up, but producer Don Gehman really felt we needed one more song to complete it. I disagreed but Don arranged for me to meet up with Rick Nowells, who was a songwriter working in a studio just down the street from where we were. I was against the whole idea, but went along reluctantly to meet up with Rick.
“I recall walking into the studio where Rick was, and he was fiddling about trying to get a drum machine working. So I took over, changed a few setting, plugged it in, and out came this shuffle. I just said, ‘OK, let’s write a song around this’. The next thing I know, Rick is playing something that just clicked. It felt so right, and we did Lay Down Your Guns, which was the first single from the album. And a huge hit in Australia. This showed me that you never know everything,. And you have to listen to what other people advise!”
The Things I Love In You “This is a Cold Chisel song, telling the story of a guy standing on a street corner, drinking a beer, while his girlfriend is upstairs doing to someone else what he’d love her to do to him, and he thinks about killing them both. When Cold Chisel were in the studio, we never used headphones. We had the PA and monitors turn up and went for it. We wanted everything to be loud and raucous.
“I just recall doing this track for The Last Wave Of Summer album , and on the first take I just put everything I had into it. So much so that, when I’d finished I lay on the floor covered in sweat and exhausted. I just had no more left to offer. And that was the take we used on the album. This summed up the way we never held back, but gave our all every time.”