1 title per month from Audible’s entire catalog of best sellers, and new releases.
Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Premium Plus plan is $14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Chinaberry Sidewalks  By  cover art

Chinaberry Sidewalks

By: Rodney Crowell
Narrated by: Rodney Crowell
Try for $0.00

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Buy for $24.50

Buy for $24.50

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

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 father’s 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 Year’s Eve party with gunfire and ended their slugfest at the local drive-in (actual restaurants weren’t 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 11. 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 50's: 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 Crowell’s 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.

©2011 Rodney Crowell (P)2011 Random House

Critic Reviews

"Crowell's upbringing in Texas had all the prerequisite elements of a hardscrabble country music story; but [his] storytelling abilities and narrative flair elevate this book far above the average music memoir." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

"With this heartfelt memoir [Crowell] can now be called a writer of the first order. Unsparingly honest. Exceptional." (Booklist, starred review)

“[A] touching, sometimes rough, and vivid chronicle of mid-20th-century Southern life...highly recommended.” (Library Journal, starred review)

More from the same

What listeners say about Chinaberry Sidewalks

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    52
  • 4 Stars
    9
  • 3 Stars
    5
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    4
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    51
  • 4 Stars
    5
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    2
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    47
  • 4 Stars
    9
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Foul Language

What could Rodney Crowell have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Quit using the F--- word!

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Nope

Any additional comments?

I have no intention of listening to a book where the F--- word is used! I find it an insult and I will not tolerate it.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

When a Poet Writes Prose

I am nuts about Rodney Crowell. There is not a better country music writer extent. That being said, I have found from listening to Chinaberry Sidewalks that there is a difference between writing poetry and prose. All those warnings your high school English teacher gave: "less adjectives, more action verbs, etc." are true. Rodney's vast vocabulary and skill with folksy idioms worked against him in this book. He just didn't know when to stop. The average sentence was about a block long, which made it tough to stay focused. I lived on the wild east side of Houston for many years, so I enjoyed hearing his take on familiar landmarks. Living is a trip on Telephone Road.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great book. Loved it

Easy time lesson to. Keep me going wanting to fear more of the story. Fantastic.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

So Great I never wanted it to end!

Would you consider the audio edition of Chinaberry Sidewalks to be better than the print version?

Rodney made me laugh out loud . His accent was a plus.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Rodney had me fall in love with him. I went looking on his website to find out more! I just wanted more Rodney Crowell!

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

When he went to get the girl out of her daddy's house.

Any additional comments?

Don't miss out on this book.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Every scene easily pictured in my head

This story was so truthfully told with gut wrenching details and great heart. Loved it.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great memoir!

A coming of age story and more in the best tradition of literature. I enjoyed the author reading his own work. I can relate, having been born the same year as Rodney Crowell.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

The audio is way too low

I read this book when it was released and was excited to hear Rodney read it. I stopped after a couple of hours because the recording is so muffled.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Not your traditional memoir

Rodney Crowell could have easily written a boilerplate autobiography: a little bit of childhood and teenage stories, detailing his time as an upcoming singer-songwriter, maybe some dark and gritty tales of drug use and sobriety, ending on a hopeful note. But the Houston Kid has never been a traditional person. instead he has written a thoroughly detailed ode to his parents and his childhood, with the good, the bad, and the ugly all included.
For most of the book, his tales of his Texas childhood don't go past the age of 12, plus a chapter each dedicated to the upbringing of his mother and father. There's shenanigans, domestic disputes, and a head injury or two, all narrated with Crowell's easy Texas drawl which makes you feel like you are sitting on porch with him, drinking a sweet tea while he regales you.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful!

Rodney uses his words in this book just like he does in the songs he writes. Highly recommend

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Spectacular! I can’t wait to read this again .

This is a masterpiece. His prose is spellbinding and oh so relatable. I can’t believe I stumbled upon this beautiful work.