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Chinaberry Sidewalksby Rodney Crowell
Synopses & Reviews
From the acclaimed musician comes a tender, surprising, and often uproarious memoir about his dirt-poor southeast Texas boyhood.
The only child of a hard-drinking father and a Holy Roller mother, Rodney Crowell was no stranger to bombast from an early age, whether knock-down-drag-outs at a local dive bar or fire-and-brimstone sermons at Pentecostal tent revivals. He was an expert at reading his fathers mercurial moods and gauging exactly when his mother was likely to erupt, and even before he learned to ride a bike, he was often forced to take matters into his own hands. He broke up his parents raucous New Years Eve party with gunfire and ended their slugfest at the local drive-in (actual restaurants werent on the Crowells menu) by smashing a glass pop bottle over his own head.
Despite the violent undercurrents always threatening to burst to the surface, he fiercely loved his epilepsy-racked mother, who scorned boring preachers and improvised wildly when the bills went unpaid. And he idolized his blustering father, a honky-tonk man who took his boy to see Hank Williams, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash perform live, and bought him a drum set so he could join his band at age eleven.
Shot through with raggedy friends and their neighborhood capers, hilariously awkward adolescent angst, and an indelible depiction of the bloodlines Crowell came from, Chinaberry Sidewalks also vividly re-creates Houston in the fifties: a rough frontier town where icehouses sold beer by the gallon on paydays; teeming with musical venues from standard roadhouses to the Magnolia Gardens, where name-brand stars brought glamour to a place starved for it; filling up with cheap subdivisions where blue-collar day laborers could finally afford a house of their own; a place where apocalyptic hurricanes and pest infestations were nearly routine.
But at its heart this is Crowells tribute to his parents and an exploration of their troubled yet ultimately redeeming romance. Wry, clear-eyed, and generous, it is, like the very best memoirs, firmly rooted in time and place and station, never dismissive, and truly fulfilling.
From the Hardcover edition.
In a tender and uproarious memoir, singer-songwriter Rodney Crowell reveals the good, the bad, and the ugly of a dirt-poor southeast Texas boyhood.
The only child of a hard-drinking father and a holy-roller mother, acclaimed musician Rodney Crowell was no stranger to bombast. But despite a home life always threatening to burst into violence, Rodney fiercely loved his mother and idolized his blustering father, a frustrated musician who took him to see Hank Williams, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash perform. Set in 1950s Houston, a frontier-rough town with icehouses selling beer by the gallon on payday, pest infestations right out of a horror film, and the kind of freedom mischievous kids dream of, Chinaberry Sidewalks is Rodney's tribute to his parents and his remarkable youth. Full of the most satisfying kind of nostalgia, it is hardly recognizable as a celebrity memoir. Rather, it's a story of coming-of-age at a particular time, place, and station, crafted as well as the perfect song.
About the Author
Born in Houston in 1950, Rodney Crowell has released nearly twenty albums in four decades, with five consecutive number-one hits, and has also worked widely as a songwriter and a producer. His honors include a Grammy, an ASCAP lifetime achievement award, and membership in the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He lives in Nashville.
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Arts and Entertainment » Music » Genres and Styles » Country » Biographies