Stepping In the Ring

by Henrik Tuxen, November 2015, Buenos Aries

Luck comes to those who seek it out. That’s what soccer managers say after winning on a random own goal after being under siege for 95 minutes. And yet there’s still an element of truth to it; being in the right place at the right time, combined with equal parts curiosity and the ice water in your veins it takes to embrace chance and ride the wave where it takes you. Pure coincidence it may seem, but it isn’t. Why was I in that precise situation, right when those events began to transpire? That’s definitely the story of my life. A string of coincidences, events, people leading to the next. My work and family life appear logical, planned and organized, but nothing could be further from the truth..

Take the book PEARL JAM The More You Need – The Less You Get. Sharing Patrol was in Seattle just by chance. I took up journalism on a whim. It was pure coincidence that producer Kurt Bloch’s band was the supporting act for Pearl Jam in 1996, as was my presence on stage during the fatal accident at Roskilde in 2000, which then led to the subsequent contact between Stone Gossard and me. Totally out of the blue, Veronica embraces the book and translates it to Spanish and publishes it in South America, which adds about 20 new twists to the story. All of these things by chance – and yet not completely so. I’m standing there in every case, trying to grab the opportunity, the adventure, when it randomly and fleetingly zooms within my reach.


The same goes for Marie – and the same goes for Captain Kidd. Just before a trip to New York in the fall of 2013, Sara from Pearl Jam management sends me a message: “I’ll put you on +1 for both shows” – even though I had only asked for a single ticket. The tide of events rolls on from there; after settling into a hotel close to JFK and on my way to see Pearl Jam in Brooklyn, I’m sitting there alone with two tickets. It’s a shame really, so I check Facebook, where I had posted a status about the extra ticket before takeoff from Denmark. A ton of bids had poured in, from a grand auntie’s friend’s friend is in New York and crazy about Pearl Jam to friends’ friends who might be in NYC at the same time. And then there’s Marianne Søndergaard, who had come to my rescue so many times in the past, and who wrote that her sister Marie lives in New York and would love to join me. A quick message – “See you in 1½ hours at Union Square” – and five minutes later I feel like I’ve known Marie half my life. Two days, two crazy concerts, deep moments with Jeff, Ed, Stone, John McEnroe and other maniacs. As for Marie, there’s only one thing to say: “She got Pearl Jammed.”

Since then, it’s been virtually impossible to spend time with Marie over a lemon soda, coffee or beer without cracking up, getting real deep, or brainstorming an idea for an article, book, series, festival, revolution – you name it. A month before my trip to South America, we meet for coffee and Marie says, “You’re going on an adventure and I’m going with you – I’ll be your wingman, and I’ll pay my own fare.” And so it was. After those insane, amazing, emotional, full-on chaotic days in Chile and Argentina, with and without Pearl Jam, it’s crystal clear that we have to work and create something together. After a serious bout of food poisoning, I get my bearings in Buenos Aires and Marie drags me down one of the city’s motley streets in the district of Palermo. We end up going bonkers in a party supplies shop, trying on and buying stupid hats by the boatload. After yet another selfie, Marie says: “Don’t you have a quote for this one?”

For some reason, I’ve always had a quote, a text, a hook, that pops up for pretty much any situation.  And this one is a piece of cake: “The Captain & The Kid”, taken from Elton John’s incredible Captain Fantastic, which I played to death as an 11-year-old boy, and which poetically depicts the unique, lifelong collaboration between John and lyricist Bernie Taupin. They were two pieces of the same cloth, from the innocence of childhood through the trials and tribulations of adulthood: “Hand in hand went music and the rhyme / The Captain and the Kid stepping in the ring”. That’s me and Marie. I’m the eternal Kid who can never figure out how to be an adult. Forgetting my keys, a scatterbrain to the n-th degree, able to send an e-mail on a good day, boozing it up, acting foolishly, notoriously broke, but always with my mind full of ideas and the urge to take action. And then there’s the Captain, Marie, with a clear overview, the fire, the organic, technical and innovative skills. Curiosity, the drive and the proclivity to make things happen, always in touch with the cutting edge. When needed, able to make the decisions and take the responsibility of a manager – and yet Marie isn’t all that old. It goes both ways. Sir Elton, cool, respect, but there’re still those with greater clout.

“They got it wrong in the publishing contract – Captain Kidd!” says Marie. Captain Kidd! I just about die laughing.

The historic Scottish pirate from the 1600s, immortalized in the 11-verse-long and utterly, amazingly rambling Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream, where imagination, storytelling and pure madness set the bar at a level I personally haven’t seen surpassed since the album Bringing It All Back Home saw the light of day in 1965. So we combine Elton & Bernie’s musketeer oath with the wild Scottish pirate in a hat, the eternal musical and lyrical inspiration from the newly-crowned winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Bob D (who also named my partner-in-crime, “Absolutely sweet Marie”) – then we add Music on Books and I think we’ve got a bull's-eye.  

“They asked me my name / And I said, “Captain Kidd” / They believed me but / They wanted to know / What exactly that I did,” sneers Dylan, and it’s a pretty easy question to answer. Captain Kidd, the duo that embraces the challenge, seeks out their luck and goes for it.

Dylan concludes his delirium of a nightmare – doomed to the role of organ grinder for an eternity, yet persevering: “I asked the captain what his name was / And how come he didn’t drive a truck / He said his name was Columbus / I just said, ‘Good luck’.”

We’re ready to take a few blows. Columbus “discovered” America; let’s see what we discover. With some good luck from Uncle Bob, we’re ready to live by the words: “Haul on the bowline / We sang that melody / Like all tough sailors do / When they are far away at sea.”

Captain Kidd, Stepping in the Ring: join us for the ride and hang on tight as we set sail.