Barack Obama And Bruce Springsteen Now Have A Podcast Together

The former president and rock ‘n’ roll legend launched a new podcast through Spotify called “Renegades: Born In The USA.”

Bruce Springsteen (L) and Barack Obama (R) share a laugh in the White House. The musician and former president have launched a podcast through Spotify. | White House/Spotify
Bruce Springsteen (L) and Barack Obama (R) share a laugh in the White House. The musician and former president have launched a podcast through Spotify. | White House/Spotify

Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen introduced a new podcast together through Spotify as part of the Obamas’ venture into the podcasting world.  

The first two episodes of “Renegades: Born In The USA” were released on Monday; Spotify described the new audio offering as “a series of conversations between President Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen about their lives, music, and enduring love of America—despite all its challenges.”

The podcast was launched as part of Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions, which was launched in 2018 and has partnership deals with both Spotify and Netflix. “The Michelle Obama Podcast” was the first podcast to launch last summer under the Spotify deal

The first episode of “Renegades” tackles the “unlikely friendship” between the prolific musician and the 44th president of the United States. Obama tweeted on Monday that he and his “good friend” Bruce Springsteen sat down last year and had a “long and meaningful conversation.”

“On the surface, Bruce and I don’t have a lot in common,” Obama said in the preview video. “He’s a white guy from a small town in Jersey. I’m a Black guy of mixed race born in Hawaii. He’s a rock ‘n’ roll icon. I’m not as cool.”

Obama and Springsteen try to recall meeting for the first time during Obama’s campaign trail in 2008. Springsteen has been heavily involved in politics for years, endorsing both Obama and current President Joe Biden. 

“In our own ways, Bruce and I have been on parallel journeys,” Obama continued. “Looking for a way to connect our own individual searches for meaning, truth, then community with the larger story of America.” 

“Renegade” was the Secret Service’s codename for Obama when he was president.

Obama discusses reparations and race with Springsteen

One of the two episodes released Monday, “American Skin,” is a 40-minute conversation between the two on the current state of race in America. Their discussions largely avoid offering any grand solve for this foremost issue of our day, instead remaining anecdotal, observational in nature. At one point, Obama lengthily describes his inner conflict as president on the topic of reparations in particular, believing the policy to be morally justified but politically impossible:

“Are reparations justified? The answer is yes. There’s not much question that the wealth of this country, the power of this country was built in significant part [by enslaved people]. They built the house I stayed in for a while …  Could you actually get that kind of justice? Could you get a country to agree and own that history? And, my judgment was that, as a practical matter, that was unattainable. We can’t even get this country to provide decent schooling for inner city kids. And, what I saw during my presidency, was that the politics of white resistance and resentment, the talk of welfare queens, and the talk of the undeserving poor, and the backlash against affirmative action: all [of] that made the prospect of proposing any kind of coherent, meaningful reparations program, struck me as politically not only a nonstarter, but potentially counterproductive.”

In moments like that one, Springsteen comes across less like a co-host and more like a reporter or moderator, solemnly listening while the nation’s only Black president grapples with the fact that his presidency didn’t usher in the post-racial America many might’ve yearned for. But the Hall of Fame rocker manages to offer multiple moving reflections of his own life, specifically with regard to his lifelong, intensely close relationship with his saxophonist, Clarence Clemons, who passed away in 2011 after 39 years in Springsteen’s E Street Band. At one moment early on, Obama praises The Boss & co. for being one of the first truly integrated acts in rock history.

“There was an idealism is [Clarence & my] partnership, where I always felt our audience looked at us and saw the America that they wanted to see and wanted to believe in,” Springsteen replies. “And this became the biggest story I’ve ever told. I’ve never written a song that told a bigger story than Clarence & I standing next to each other on any of the 1,001 nights that we played.”

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