The E Street rocker and the former president joined forces in 2020 for their Renegades podcast, which the pair have now turned into a book, Renegades: Born in the U.S.A., out next week. Speaking to CBS’ Anthony Mason, Obama and Springsteen talked about their friendship, which dates back to the 2008 presidential election, as well as why Obama was drawn to Springsteen’s music.
“There is a certain sense of ministry to Bruce’s music and his body of work is around these issues of who are we, and what’s important,” Obama said.
Springsteen said, “When I go out on any given evening, when I’m doing my job well, is I create a space of common values and shared narrative, for three hours we create that place, it exists somewhere.”
Obama added, “And that power of storytelling is, at its best, what good politics does as well. It says, ‘Here’s who we are, here’s a common story we share.'”
In the podcast, both Springsteen and Obama labeled themselves as “outsiders,” which the pair also talked about on CBS Sunday Morning.
“It might be the story of all artists and musicians, that you start from the outside. When I was young, I felt forceless, I felt invisible, but I fought to find out where I belong,” Springsteen said.
“Now I joke with Bruce, because I don’t understand why a kid from New Jersey thinks he’s an outsider. Now, I’m an outsider. You can definitely understand why Barack Obama is the outsider,” Obama said. “What I do think we both shared was that since having questions about how do we fit into the existing narrative, how do we fit into the communities that we’re born into.”
The pair also talked about the musical chemistry and relationship between Springsteen and late saxophonist Clarence Clemons, and the E Street Band’s impact as an integrated group of musicians.
“In an ideal world, what Bruce and Clarence portrayed on stage was essentially a reconciliation,” Obama said.
Obama also talked about the midterm elections and the growing “polarization” in America. “I think Joe Biden is pursuing the exact policies that need to be pursued,” Obama said. “Has he been able to bridge the polarization that we’ve seen building up over several decades now? No, and in fairness in to him, I wasn’t able to slow that down as much as I would’ve liked, and certainly my successor actively promoted it. We’re gonna have to figure out how do we regain some sense of a common American story, and I think that’s a longer term process.”
Springsteen added, “There’s no going back. We can be momentarily polarized, but at the end of the day, history’s moving on.”