The president and the rock star met during the 2008 election campaign, and over the years they have cultivated a warm friendship. In January 2017, as Obama prepared to step down, Springsteen gave the White House an intimate, career-spanning performance, which he then developed into his solo show on Broadway. In “Renegades,” Obama, 59, and Springsteen, 71, laugh heartily as they recount some of the impromptu meals, discussions and songs they shared.
Dan Fierman, director of Higher Ground Audio, said Michelle Obama’s experience directing her show last year prompted the former president to start his own podcast, and he chose Springsteen as his interviewer. Their first recording session took place on July 30, just hours after Obama delivered the eulogy for John Lewis, the civil rights hero and Georgia congressman.
Their conversation mixes the personal and the mythical. Obama talks about growing up in Hawaii with the confusion and discomfort of being mixed race – “I was not easily identified; I felt like an outsider, ”he says – and everyone shares lessons in masculinity that they learned from their own father’s failures.
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 marvels at the universality and patriotism that emanates from it. when the concert crowds scream his line: “This is your hometown”.
“I always feel like they know the city they’re talking about isn’t Freehold,” Springsteen says, referring to where he grew up in New Jersey. “It’s not Washington. It’s not Seattle. That’s the whole – it’s all of America. “Brief pause.” It’s a good song. “
“It’s a great song,” Obama adds quickly.
The show reflects a big tent centrism that has long been part of the two men’s approach. Springsteen ran a Jeep ad during the last Super Bowl – his very first ad – that called on Americans to meet “in the middle.”