Chinaberry Sidewalks

Chinaberry Sidewalks

by Rodney Crowell

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Chinaberry Sidewalks 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
emmar1994 More than 1 year ago
Expecting to read an account of Rodney Crowell's musical career, I was pleasently surprised to find a hilarious and insightful look at a poverty-stricken, mid-century Texan childhood. The memoir, which is basically a collection of anecdotes laced with relatable humor and occasionally heartwrenching truths, pulls at your heart strings and easily makes you laugh and cry- sometimes in the same paragraph. From accounts of forced playdates with an ex-Nazi and eating squirell meat roasted on a backyard fire when money got tight to watchcing his mother in a bar fight when he was eleven and dealing with her epilepsy, Rodney Crowell demonstrates his combined hatred and love for his parents and the unconventional environment in which they raised him. This dynamic book is definitley worth taking a lazy Saturday to read.
SamSattler on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In Chinaberry Sidewalks: A Memoir, Rodney Crowell uses his remarkable storytelling skills to pay tribute to his parents, J.W. and Cauzette. Along the way, the book provides a good bit of insight into what shaped Rodney Crowell into the man he is today, but make no mistake about it, Chinaberry Sidewalks is primarily J.W. and Cauzette¿s story. Rodney just happens to share much of it with them.J.W. (from Kentucky) and Cauzette (from Buchanan, Tennessee) were married in Evansville, Indiana on September 6, 1942 because of the quickness and ease with which a marriage could be accomplished in that state. Eventually the couple would move to Houston, Texas, where in August 1950 Rodney would be born, as he puts it, between his mother¿s ¿seventh and eighth miscarriages.¿ Cauzette had managed one earlier full-term pregnancy but Rodney¿s brother survived for only 37 hours, and Rodney would prove to be an only child.To hear Rodney tell it, there was seldom a dull moment at his house on Jacinto City¿s (a Houston suburb) Norvic Street. Considering the volatile mix that is a hard-drinking, country-singer-wannabe father and a church-attending Pentecostal mother, along with the strong personalities both parents brought to the marriage, this is likely to have been the case. Rodney¿s upbringing may have been loud, and it might have been a bit on the edge, but it was the perfect incubator for one of country music¿s future stars.J.W., who went so far as to make eleven-year-old Rodney his drummer in J.W. Crowell and the Rhythmaires, passed his love for country music (and its legends) on to his son. Cauzette, on the other hand, made sure that Rodney was exposed to another side of show business, including at least one preacher who gave one ¿the impression that he might burst into flames at any moment.¿ He was exposed to moving, emotional music in both cases, and Rodney learned from it all.Chinaberry Sidewalks is filled with stories of growing up in 1950s Houston during those more innocent days when little boys still had the run of their neighborhood streets. Rodney and his friends, as did all boys in those days, formed their own little world, one in which they entertained themselves and of which their parents were only marginally aware. There are tales of near-misses involving bows and arrows, surviving hurricane parties hosted by drunken neighbors, rock-throwing brawls, fishing trips, powerful thunderstorms, and catching the big-name country stars when they came to town. J.W. Crowell wanted to be Hank Williams, and he did live the life ¿ol¿ Hank¿ sang about. He even took a barely two-year-old Rodney to see one of Hank¿s shows just weeks before Hank would die at age 29. That the show made such an impact on Rodney is probably due more to J.W.¿s retelling of the story than it is on Rodney¿s actual memory of it, but there is no doubt that Rodney felt as if he were in the presence of a young god that fateful night. That Rodney would go on to have almost exactly the career J.W. wished so hard for himself is a bit sad, but that career still serves as a fitting tribute to the man he loved so much.Rodney Crowell has done himself, his parents, and his old friends proud with Chinaberry Sidewalks, but potential readers should be aware that this is not a book about his musical career or his life with Rosanne Cash, daughter of John. Those aspects are barely touched upon; here¿s hoping that Rodney is saving all of that for volume two.Rated at: 4.0
DeltaQueen50 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Rodney Crowell¿s memoir, Chinaberry Sidewalks covers his early years. This is not a book about his rise to fame, but more of a loving tribute to his parents. Rodney was often in the middle of his father¿s drunken rages against his mother, who in her turn, was a holy-roller who also had a fondness for beer and whipping Rodney. Yet his words are laced with humor, wryness and a loving fondness and the final pages, when he¿s by the bedside at first his father and then his mother¿s death there is a tender strength that often shows up in his musical lyrics.Growing up in the 1950¿s and 60`s, his parents were scrabbling to make a living in East Austin. Rodney both idolized and abhorred his father. Together they had a love of music, and Rodney was taken to see Hank Williams Senior, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis by him. But the dark undercurrent that was brought out by his father¿s drinking was never far from Rodney¿s thoughts. He also had to keep a close eye on his mother at all times as she was epileptic and Rodney had to be ready at a moments notice to administer to her when she had a seizure.Rodney Crowell is a master lyricist and this ability shines through the pages of this book. Honest, humble, and humorous, he paints a picture of growing up poor, with these damaged parents, yet also is able to portray the love that his family ultimately shared and the value in this upbringing that shaped the man he is today.
Hagelstein on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Rodney Crowell writes about his parents, and about growing up poor in Houston, with love, humor, and kindness. He¿s honest about their many flaws, and his own. He shows how his mother struggled with health throughout her life, and how his father struggled with life in general. His father passed his love of music on to Crowell, who in turn has had the success his father craved. This is a very, very good memoir.
kraaivrouw on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have long admired Rodney Crowell. A country traditionalist (country shouldn't sound like pop music), he was heavily influenced by Townes Van Zandt (much like Steve Earle was). His sound has roots in Hank Williams, Johnny Cash (whose daughter he was married to for awhile), Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins - all people I grew up listening to along with a lot of blues, rock and roll, and jazz. My family has always had eclectic musical tastes.Crowell's memoir, Chinaberry Sidewalks reads as if you're sitting out on the porch with him on a Texas summer night, swatting mosquitoes and drinking beer. Crowell is a great storyteller and I found the tale of his parents and their stormy relationship, and his childhood growing up hardscrabble in Houston both familiar and fascinating. I'm ten years younger than he is, but well I remember the mosquito trucks, the encephalitis scares, the holy roller preachers, and running around the neighborhood getting into trouble. This book is worth a read for that alone.There is a deeper message throughout this book (which is never preachy). That forgiveness is possible and that even the most complicated relationships can be redeemed. I learned some things from Mr. Crowell that I won't soon forget.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As another Houston Kid of the 1950's, I loved this book! Rodney captures the magic, tragic, and the absolutely (sometimes) absurb reality we grew up in the 'burbs of Houston during that period. It is a lovely and wonderful book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok Read- was hoping it would be a bit more like Glass Castle
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
northidahoman More than 1 year ago
As a longtime fan of Mr. Crowell and his music, I figured I should read this latest effort. It's a GREAT read! His 'lyrical turn of a phrase' has followed him completely to this new genre and I just couldn't put it down. Not only has it further cemented the "Houston Kid's" image for me, but it's brought me a new understanding for aging and accepting the hands dealt us by fate. Rodney.... ya done good man!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
catwak More than 1 year ago
Rodney Crowell's memoir, sometimes poignant and often outrageously funny, is a tribute to his parents. It proves that what could tersely be described as a deprived childhood in an abusive, dysfunctional family can in fact provide nurture -- and yes, love -- for talent to grow and flourish. I bought this book because I grew up in Crowell's Houston, albeit in a different part of town. But what kept me engaged were shared experiences of the times: the mosquito trucks, the terrible weather, the omnipresence of church in community life. Being a fan of Crowell's music, I can't help feeling that his manuscript was hijacked by someone who logged too many hours at writers' workshops. (Example: "A full 6 feet and 4 inches of antediluvian autocracy rose fom its leather chair like the gray dawn of the Apocalypse, pulling from a hidden sheath the exact crimson Excalibur I'd foresworn never to lay eyes on.") I much prefer his singing voice: "The chill in my bones just reminds me that life isn't fair and nobody cares/About lost souls surviving on hard knocks and vice."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have to say I loved this book it reminds me of my self at times,but in a good way. This is Crowell's first book and it is well written. The memories of his parents are forever tatooed in his brain. Even with growing up in the 50's and money hard to find he loved his some what over bearing parents with all of his heart.
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