Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen wrote the truth about America Culture and lifestyle in Germany and Europe DW

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Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen, also known as Boss, met in 2008 when the legendary rock musician was campaigning for a young senator who wanted to become president. Eight years later, Springsteen received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Obama, one of the highest awards in the United States, for his contributions to culture. That’s how the friendship began.

Then the United States seized the protests of the Black Lives Matter movement, growing American discontent over the pandemic, and after the 2020 presidential election there was an attempt to seize the Capitol. Political and social turbulence prompted Barack Obama to address the Boss with an idea to reflect on the fate of the States in a podcast. “Renegades: Born in the USA” is a series of programs about love for America and contradictions in society. The first issues were released in February 2021. “Bruce and I are united by the need to rethink America’s history,” Obama said in an interview with CBS. “People need to accept a country as it is, with its shortcomings and its benefits,” Springsteen added.

Racism, fatherhood, music: what Obama’s new book is about

The eight-episode podcast intertwines politics and privacy. The range of topics covers issues of racism, the civil rights movement and the ideas of the founding fathers of the United States, issues of paternity, marriage and masculinity. The dialogues were recorded in Springsteen’s studio, surrounded by guitars and amplifiers. So another important topic was music, from Bob Dylan and hip-hop to the influence of black musicians such as Aretha Franklin and James Brown on the development of pop culture.

The English-language version of Renegades: Born in the USA, published on October 26, is based on these conversations and is able to replicate the success of the podcast, which became the most popular on the Spotify platform. “Each in his own way, Bruce and I traveled in parallel, trying to understand the country that has given us both so much,” Obama wrote in the preface to the publication.

What do the president and the rock legend have in common?

In an interview with the German television and radio company ARD, the 44th President of the United States called the musician “the great chronicler of American life,” “a narrator who captures many contradictions.” The co-authors of the book have different social backgrounds, but they are united by liberal-democratic views and love for their country.

Because of his name and skin color, Barack Obama knows what it means to be an outsider. As it turns out during the dialogues, both authors grew up without fathers and tried to fill this void. “When I was young, I felt voiceless, invisible, but struggled to figure out where my place was,” said Springsteen, a 72-year-old who grew up in humble New Jersey. His mother, the main breadwinner in the family, bought him his first guitar on loan at the bank. Quickly becoming a star of stadium rock, Springsteen remained a bard of the American working class.

In his albums, he criticized the United States and especially the Vietnam War. This theme was voiced in his major hit “Born in the USA” (1984), the title of which migrated to the cover of a new publication. According to the co-authors, the song revealed the existing tensions in America. A similar current state of society is now reflected in the podcast and book.

How to unite America?

In their discussions on various topics, the 44th president and rock legend constantly return to the key question: can a fundamentally divided America ever become united?

Racial strife is one of the major problems facing American society

Racial strife is one of the major problems facing American society

In an interview with ARD, Obama spoke about a problem that exists not only in the United States but also in Europe – in particular, in Germany. According to his observations, people, especially ordinary workers, feel that they are losing ground, in part due to globalization and the collapse of the manufacturing industry. “Some of their worries and needs are justified… Those who may be fascinated by conspiracy theories or absorb other nonsense are people who love their families, work hard and care for the next generation. So the question is: how do we get back to consent? ” says Obama.

The new book is about trying to understand others and stay true to your principles. “Now is the time to be vigilant, when who we are is being severely tested,” Bruce Springsteen wrote in the preface. In book format, the podcast’s intimate conversations are complemented by unpublished texts, photographs from the authors’ own collections, and rare archival material, including Springsteen’s handwritten texts and Obama’s annotated presidential speeches.

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