Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen launch a podcast together

‘Renegades: Born in the USA’ is the friendship show we didn’t know we needed.
Published February 23, 2021 10:08 a.m. EST
Spotify Spotify

It seems like every celebrity is using their downtime during the pandemic to start a podcast and in some cases, that’s a really good thing. Case in point, the newly announced series Renegades: Born in the USA, which co-stars former U.S. President Barack Obama and musical legend Bruce Springsteen. Okay 2021, you get one point in the ‘pro’ column.

On Monday, the first two installments of the podcast were released through Spotify, which describes the eight-episode program 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.”

Diving headfirst into the personal and social, POTUS and the Boss kick off the series with stories about their upbringing, including their strained relationships with their fathers, as well as how race has impacted their lives and the lives of their fellow Americans. The first episode of Renegades was recorded on July 30 and took place hours after Obama eulogized Civil Rights hero and Georgia congressman John Lewis.

“In our own ways, Bruce and I have been on parallel journeys,” says Obama in the first episode. “We still share a fundamental belief in the American ideal. Not as an airbrushed, cheap fiction or an act of nostalgia that ignores all the ways that we’ve fallen short of that ideal. But as a compass for the hard work that lies before each of us as citizens.”

Springsteen and Obama met on Obama’s 2008 campaign trail, though neither can remember the details of their introduction or the location, a sign of true friendship when years and experiences begin to meld together. The 44th president opens the first episode by discussing the current state of division in the U.S., which has spurred conversations with those closest to him.

“For three years, I’d had to watch a presidential successor who was diametrically opposed to everything I believed in. And witnessed a country that seemed to be getting angrier and more divided with each passing day. Then came a historic pandemic, along with a slip-shot government response that rained hardship and loss on millions. And forced all of us to consider what’s really important in life,” says Obama. How did we get here? How could we find our way back to a more unifying American story? That topic came to dominate so many of my conversations last year – with Michelle, with my daughters and with friends. And one of the friends just happened to be Mr. Bruce Springsteen.”

Speaking about the race riots around Springsteen’s hometown in Newark, New Jersey, Obama’s early exposure to racism in his native Hawaii, the forming of the E Street Band, and the pair’s ongoing efforts to unite Americans, the first two episodes of Renegades have moments of profound enlightenment and lighthearted banter that make it both a joyful and educational listen.

Renegades is produced by Higher Ground Productions, which was founded by Barack and Michelle Obama. The new series is the second original podcast to be released by the company and follows in the footsteps of The Michelle Obama Podcast, which was launched during the summer of 2020 and was the top Spotify series for July and August.

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