Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen: The Latest Podcast Duo
The president and the rock star met on the 2008 campaign and have cultivated a warm friendship over the years. In January 2017, as Obama was preparing to step down, Springsteen gave an intimate, cross-career performance at the White House that he then developed into his solo show on Broadway. In Renegades, Obama, 59, and Springsteen, 71, laugh heartily as they share some of the meals, chats, and impromptu singalongs they’ve shared.
Dan Fierman, the head of Higher Ground Audio, said that Michelle Obama’s experience with her show last year led the former president to create his own podcast and he chose Springsteen to be his interlocutor. Their first intake session was on July 30th, just hours after Obama delivered the laudatory speech for John Lewis, the Georgia civil rights hero and congressman.
Their conversation mixes the personal and the mythical. Obama discusses growing up in Hawaii with the confusion and discomfort of a mixed race: “I wasn’t easy to identify; I felt like an outsider, ”he says – and everyone shares the masculinity lessons learned from the mistakes of their own fathers.
They are a society of mutual admiration. Springsteen, who occasionally picks up a guitar, tells the story of his 1984 song “My Hometown” with its echoes of racial conflicts in the 1960s. He wonders at the universality and patriotism that comes through when the concert crowds yell out their line, “This is your hometown.”
“I always feel like they know the city they’re talking about isn’t Freehold,” says Springsteen, referring to where he grew up in New Jersey. “It’s not Washington. It’s not Seattle. It’s the whole thing – it’s all of America. ” Short break. “It’s a good song.”
“It’s a great song,” Obama added quickly.
The show reflects a large-tent centrism that has long been part of both men’s approach. Springsteen ran a Jeep ad during the last Super Bowl – its first ever advertisement – urging Americans to meet “in the middle.”