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On February 22, former president Barack Obama and rock-and-roll legend Bruce Springsteen released the first 2 episodes of their 8-part podcast “Renegades: Born in the USA.” The pair struck a friendship back when Obama was first running for president in 2008, and have remained close ever since. In the wake of America’s political division, the pair have decided to release a series of conversations where they discuss everything from the American Dream to parental relationships to “fitting-in.” For those who haven’t been able to listen, here are the highlights from the 1st episode titled “Outsiders: An Unlikely Friendship.”
They bonded over drinks and show-tunes
The pair first met back in 2008 when Springsteen performed at an event for the then-senator while he was on the trail. Obama stated, “I remember thinking, he’s very low-key. Even maybe a little bit shy, and I like that.” After that, the musician performed at the 2008 presidential inauguration and various other events. However, the two really bonded at a dinner in the White House where, after a few drinks, Springsteen played the piano and their families sang Motown classics and Broadway tunes.
Bruce Springsteen is shy
Springsteen revealed that shyness is a fairly common trait in his industry, stating, “If you weren’t quiet, you wouldn’t have so desperately searched for a way to speak. The reason you have so desperately pursued your work and your language and your voice is because you haven’t had one.” Music is his method of expression, and performing allows him to be seen. Springsteen reveals that for most of his life, he felt invisible, and that “there was pain in that invisibility.” The duo were able to bond over this, as Obama experienced similar sentiments growing up.
The pair felt like outsiders
While the two had very different upbringings, they both felt like outsiders as children. Springsteen stated, “They [his grandparents] were just as eccentric as every other Irish-American at the time, and they started me off when I was a very young child as simply being different than everyone else. I had an emotional displacement.” Apart from this, the musician’s father, who was later diagnosed with schizophrenia, had difficulty holding a job due to his mental illness, making home-life hard at times.
On the other side of the world, a young Obama too felt like “the other,” being a black child in Honolulu, Hawaii. His skin color made him stand out amongst his fellow native Hawaiians, making him feel like he didn’t belong. However, from a young age, his mother Stanley Ann Dunham instilled in him a sense of racial pride that only grew with age. Obama stated, “I was loved, cherished, and special. And being black was something to be proud of and to be cherished and it is special.” She often reminded him to be grateful for his “beautiful brown skin” and that they were lucky to be part of “this wonderful grand tradition,” and frequently brought him autobiographies of great African-American champions such as Arthur Ash and Muhammed Ali. The former president credits his mother for giving him the confidence to reach his fullest potential.
The song “My Hometown” has a dark back-story
Springsteen offered some context to his song “My Hometown,” and it is quite sinister. The hit was inspired by a tragic attack: a group of white teenagers shot into a car of black kids at a stoplight, costing one of Springsteen’s friend’s his eye. The musician continues, sharing that the song relays a message that his father once told him – you need to embrace the good and acknowledge the bad in your hometown. You are partly responsible for what is happening around you, both in your town and country, and you hold the power to change it. Springsteen believes that his fans understand the true meaning behind the song and believes it resonates so well with so many because it is not just about his hometown, but about all of America.
The episode even features a special performance of the record from “The Boss” himself!
Obama’s favorite speech
In his closing remarks, the former president recounts his favorite speech while in office – his address on the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery March. Obama states, “What makes America, America is all the outsiders and the misfits and folks who tried to make something out of nothing. So that became the theme of my speech.” At the time, he and progressives as a whole were being called “un-American” for their beliefs, yet he reminds us that wanting to improve our nation actually shows how much we love it. However the sentiment of his powerful address was not to counter his critics, but instead to paint a picture of the America that Obama had tried to create during his 8 years as president: one where everyone fits-in.
While these are some of our favorite takeaways, this episode is packed with so much more. Since we can’t fit it all into one article, be sure to check out “Renegades: Born in the USA” on Spotify. We are looking forward to listening to the rest of the series!
Founded by Emmy winning journalist Maria Menounos and Producer Keven Undergaro, artist-friendly AfterBuzz TV is the world’s largest digital broadcast network and pop culture news platform, producing post-game ‘after-shows’ for nearly all favorite TV shows, interviewing cast and showrunners and providing the widest video, audio and article coverage of shows, content and influencers than any entertainment news platforms in existence
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About The Author:
Pooja Nayyar is a student of Political Science at NYU and an Intern at AfterBuzz TV. She is passionate about entertainment news, photography, and all things pop culture.
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