Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen: Renegades


This story was initially broadcast on “Sunday Morning” October 24, 2021. 

A rock star and a former president hitting the street – if it appears to be like like a buddy film, properly, it is form of develop into one.

Driving a 1960 Corvette on the house of singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen was, stated former President Barack Obama, “one of many highlights of my time on this farm … getting behind the wheel of this imply machine!”

Correspondent Anthony Mason requested Springsteen, “How previous have been you if you obtained this?”


“And what did this imply to your life if you purchased it?”

“All the pieces!” he replied. “As a result of it was all I obtained out of my document deal once I was 25 years previous, was this automotive, and I obtained a piano.”

Mr. Obama stated, “I’ll confess that the Secret Service, usually I am good about alerting them, however …”

“You simply took off?” Mason requested.

Born to run: Bruce Springsteen and former President Barack Obama trip a “imply machine.”  

Increased Floor

“Yeah, I simply took off, and within the rearview mirror I may see a few of my brokers working behind!” he laughed.

The friendship between the 2 males began in 2008: “Bruce Springsteen determined to charitably assist out some not-very-well-known new U.S. senator who had the audacity to run for president,” Mr. Obama stated. 

Over time, that friendship deepened, a friendship Mr. Obama as soon as characterised like so: “I’m the President. He’s the Boss.”

And in 2020, they sat down collectively for a few days at Springsteen’s New Jersey farm to speak about their lives, and our world.

These conversations turned a podcast, after which a guide: “Renegades: Born in the USA” (Crown).

Mason stated, “You describe the 2 of you as ‘a bit sympatico.'”



“I believe Bruce, by way of his music, I tease him about how a lot better it’s being a rock ‘n’ roll star than being a politician,” Mr. Obama stated.

“Which after all it’s!” Springsteen laughed.

“You do have the higher deal,” Mason stated.

“He does not likely deny it!” Mr. Obama stated. “There’s a sure sense of ministry to Bruce’s music. And his physique of labor is round these problems with, you understand, ‘Who’re we?'”

Springsteen stated, “That is the query.”

Like a minister, Springsteen exhorts concertgoers with language of a form of religion: “We got here right here tonight as a result of we wish to construct a home. … And after we construct that home, we’re gonna use the naked wooden, and we’ll use the Good Information that is in right here tonight.”

Bruce Springsteen speaks to (and for) the gang. 

Sony Legacy

Springsteen instructed Mason, “What I do on any given night once I’m doing my job properly is, I create an area of widespread values and shared narrative. For 3 hours, we create that place. It exists someplace.”

Mr. Obama added, “And that energy of storytelling is, you understand, at its finest, what good politics does as properly, proper? It says, ‘This is who we’re. This is a typical story we share.'”

Sen. Barack Obama speaks on race throughout a marketing campaign look in Philadelphia on March 18, 2008. 

CBS Information

As presidential candidate Obama stated in Philadelphia on March 18, 2008: “I’ve brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of each race and each hue, scattered throughout three continents, and for so long as I stay, I’ll always remember that in no different nation on Earth is my story even potential.”

“You get a variety of nostalgia generally for ’50s and ‘Depart It to Beaver’ and picket fences,” Mr. Obama instructed Mason. “And that was a real shared story, besides it left a complete bunch of stuff out.”

“And lots of people.”

“Individuals like me obtained ignored. I believe the place Bruce and I kind of overlap is that sense of, it was essential to revise the story to make it inclusive.”

Springsteen stated, “Individuals have gotten to acknowledge the nation for what it’s – its faults, its blessings.”

Mason requested, “One factor that is attention-grabbing: I believe lots of people would have a look at this and go, ‘What’s a man from Hawaii and a man from New Jersey, Black man, White man, what have they obtained in widespread?’ You each see yourselves as outsiders. You discuss feeling invisible.”

“Nicely, positive, yeah,” Springsteen stated. “It is perhaps the story of all artists and musicians, that you just begin from the surface. After I was younger, I felt unvoiced. I felt invisible. However I fought to search out out the place I belong.”

Bruce Springsteen and former President Barack Obama. 

CBS Information

Mr. Obama stated, “I joked with Bruce. I stated, ‘Nicely, I do not perceive why a child from New Jersey thinks he is an outsider.’ ‘Trigger, now, I am an outsider! You already know, you may undoubtedly perceive why Barack Obama is the outsider. What I do suppose we each shared was that sense of getting questions on, ‘Nicely, how will we match into the present narrative? How will we match into the communities that we’re born into?’ Partly as a result of, Bruce, you have talked about your dad being sick. My dad was absent.”

“Nicely, you each discuss having basically absentee fathers,” Mason stated.

“Yeah,” Springsteen replied. 

“And I believe that may contribute to that sense of feeling like, ‘I do not know precisely how I am imagined to behave or how I am imagined to act,'” Mr. Obama added. 

“Nicely, let me ask you this: You stated one thing within the podcast, Bruce, that actually struck me, which was that in some ways your work was actually about your father?”

“The extra I look again on it, the extra that is the conclusion I come to,” he replied.

“What have been you doing in that?”

“Nicely, in a way I attempted to be him,” Springsteen stated. “I attempted to create a bodily self that I believed he would approve of, and have the success that I believed he would approve of. However I additionally felt a sure kind of … that I used to be an instrument of revenge for the disappointments that my father had in his life. And so, I began to intensely inform these working-class tales that have been crammed with each hope and compassion, however a variety of anger additionally. And I believe Barack had a really related, I imply, why did you develop into president? Who have been you attempting to impress?”

Mason stated, “Nicely, that was my subsequent query. Do you suppose in some methods your father’s absence drove your ambition?”

“Completely,” Mr. Obama replied. “Yeah, my father was absent. He left once I was two. I met him solely as soon as. I knew him for a couple of month.”

“That is attention-grabbing how influential that month turned out to be.”

“Nicely, that is proper. I imply, I wrote a complete guide referred to as ‘Desires From My Father,’ a man I did not know.”

Of their podcast conversations, they touched on some powerful topics. When Mr. Obama requested, “How uncommon was it to have an built-in band again within the day?” Springsteen replied, “I believe … Why is it so arduous to speak about race? … Why am I pausing right here?”

For years, Springsteen’s E Avenue Band featured Clarence Clemons, who died in 2011. The chemistry between “the Huge Man” and “The Boss” is immortalized in newly-restored footage of Springsteen’s efficiency on the No Nukes Live performance at Madison Sq. Backyard in 1979:

Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band – The Legendary 1979 No Nukes Concert Trailer by
BruceSpringsteenVEVO on

Mason requested, “You say within the podcast and the guide that in some ways a very powerful story you ever instructed was you and Clarence on the stage collectively.”

“It was not mental; it was emotional, it was the language of the guts,” Springsteen stated. “Nevertheless it was extremely visible, it was extra helpful than the tales I wrote in my music, you understand?”

Mr. Obama stated, “In a great world, what Bruce and Clarence portrayed on stage was basically a reconciliation, proper? And redemption. However most of your audiences have been primarily White. And so they can love Clarence when he is on stage, but when they bumped into him in a bar, immediately the N-word comes out.”


“And a part of Bruce’s music, and a part of my politics, has been, ‘No, no. You gotta floor that stuff. You gotta discuss it.’ Daylight is the disinfectant. And in the event you discuss it, then you may reconcile in a real manner, not in a phony manner, however in an actual manner.”

Mason requested, “Wanting a yr ahead, how are you feeling in regards to the midterms and the way the president is doing?”

“Nicely, look, I believe Joe Biden is pursuing the precise insurance policies that should be pursued,” Mr. Obama replied. “Has he been in a position to bridge the polarization that we have seen increase over a number of a long time now? No. And in equity to him, I wasn’t in a position to sluggish that down as a lot as I might have appreciated, and positively my successor, you understand, actively promoted it. We’re gonna have to determine, how will we regain some sense of a typical American story? And I believe that’s gonna be a longer-term venture. I believe that is a 10-, 20-year venture.”

“It is generational,” Springsteen stated.

“It is a generational course of. The excellent news is that I believe there may be extra of a typical story amongst younger folks. However the older of us like us, we gotta get out of the way in which!” Mr. Obama laughed.

“Yeah, there is not any going again,” Springsteen stated. “We will be momentarily polarized. However on the finish of the day, historical past’s movin’ on.”

And stunning issues can occur: Simply have a look at the friendship of Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen.

Paying homage to a 1960 Corvette. 

CBS Information

The 72-year-old rock star instructed Mason, “I believe making buddies as you grow old, within the later components of your life, is admittedly rewarding. And it is a bit bit uncommon.”

“Comes from a unique place, too, actually,” stated Mason.

“That is proper.”

“And you do not wish to find yourself being only a lonely previous man!” the 60-year-old former president laughed.

“Previous man! That is proper!”

“That is the factor we’re attempting to keep away from, proper?”


Mr. Obama added, “It has been a hell of a trip.”

Springsteen assented: “Life is nice.”

READ A BOOK EXCERPT: “Renegades: Born in the USA”

For more information:

Story produced by Ed Forgotson and Rebecca Castagna. Editor: Ed Givnish.

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