The president and the boulder star met on the 2008 campaign trail, and over the years they enjoy cultivated a warm friendship. In January 2017, as Obama was preparing to will office, Springsteen gave an intimate, career-spanning performance at the White Theatre, which he then developed into his solo show on Broadway. In “Defectors,” Obama, 59, and Springsteen, 71, laugh heartily as they report some of the meals, chats and impromptu singalongs they have shared.
Dan Fierman, the wit of Higher Ground Audio, said that Michelle Obama’s event making her show last year spurred the former president to bring into being his own podcast, and he selected Springsteen as his interlocutor. Their first recording conference took place on July 30, just hours after Obama make overed the eulogy for John Lewis, the civil rights hero and congressman from Georgia.
Their dialogue mingles the personal and the mythic. Obama discusses growing up in Hawaii with the pot-pourri and discomfort of being of mixed race — “I wasn’t easily identifiable; I believe like an outsider,” he says — and they each share lessons of masculinity they protracted from the failings of their own fathers.
They are a mutual admiration civilization. Springsteen, who now and then picks up a guitar, tells the story of his 1984 tale “My Hometown,” with its echoes of racial conflict in the 1960s. He marvels at the universality and patriotism that fingers on through when concert crowds roar out its line, “This is your hometown.”
“I each time get a sense that they know the town they’re talking in the air isn’t Freehold,” Springsteen says, referring to where he grew up in New Jersey. “It’s not Washington. It’s not Seattle. It’s the with few exceptions thing — it’s all of America.” Brief pause. “It’s a good song.”
“It’s a great tale,” Obama quickly adds.
The show reflects a big-tent centrism that has sustained been part of both men’s approach. Springsteen released a Jeep ad during the latest Wonderful Bowl — his first commercial ever — that called for Americans to meet in “the medial.”