Can I Say
by Travis Barker with Gavin Edwards
When you’re the drummer for a band primarily known for dick jokes, expectations on your rock star biography are pretty low. And before you get all indignant about that description of Blink 182 realize that it came directly from the band’s drummer, Travis Barker in Can I Say. And no matter how big a role the band played in your pre-teen/teenage world it’s still a pretty apt descriptor.
Music bios have often been maligned and coordinated off to their own book store ghettos and sometimes for good reason. But in a year that gave us one great musical memoir after another (Chrissie Hynde, Elvis Costello, Tom Petty and Viv Albertine all quickly come to mind), you can no longer simply give ‘em the excuse that musician bios are supposed to be vapid.
There is no argument that Barker is a talented drummer across a slew of diverse musical genres, but he’s also apparently kind of a dick (to girlfriends, wives, siblings, etc.). Can I Say can actually be divided into two different books: pre-2008 plane crash and post. The former details Baker’s childhood as a bratty kid. He grew up relatively poor and his mom died just days before he entered high school, leaving him to be raised by his dad and older sisters.
Aside from the admittedly touching remembrances of his mom, he spends the bulk of first half of the book letting us know just how much dope he smoked, how just about every girl he came into contact wanted to screw him and what an amazing drummer he was. If the target audience here is 13-year-old boys who think nothing is funnier than lighting farts and punching each other in the dick, then congrats; you’re spot on.
The second part of the book however, detailing Baker’s harrowing experience surviving a small plane crash that killed two of his friends, the pilots and badly injured both Barker and fellow musician/friend Adam Goldstein, comes off like an entirely different book: frank, vulnerable and thoughtful. It does devolve again when he details how bat shit crazy (at least in his telling) his ex-wife and mother of his children, Shannon Moakler, acted throughout their relationship. He also spends plenty of time detailing his brief relationships with a pre-Kanye Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton and (almost) Lindsey Lohan (did I leave anyone out? I think that’s the pop culture/inane celebrity trifecta).
Most surprisingly though is the inclusion throughout the book of testaments from family, friends, bandmates and ex-wives about just how great a guy (if a little crazy) Travis was/is. You can only imagine how pissed some will be when they read the final copy and see places where Baker wasn’t so effusive in praising them.
Is the book honest? I guess; is it salacious? You bet; is it worth more the read? Not if you’ve evolved past dick jokes. (John B. Moore)