Bruce Springsteen and Barack Obama record the Spotify podcast in New Jersey at the musician’s home. In the middle of the book cover in Spanish.
Photo: AP and cover of the discussion seal
BRUCE SPRINGSTEIN: I’ve been watching you since I was a senator. You will appear on the screen and think: “Yes, this is the language I want to speak, which I am trying to speak.” I felt it fit internally and deeply with your vision of the country. (More: Watch the trailer for Bruce Springsteen’s documentary.)
Barack Obama: It was like we were fighting for the same thing. Each one in his environment and in different ways. So, when you talk about connecting these two places: “This is where I want the state to be and this is where it is,” I have to put my feet where they really are. But I want to push people and push them where they can be. (We recommend: Read a chapter from Barack Obama’s autobiography.)
BS: Yes, in our little corner, with what we do, we work in the same building.
BO: It’s just like that. And we’ve had many of those interactions over the years: I sang at the inaugural concert, visited the White House, ran for re-election, and did other things again.
BS: We had a nice dinner or two.
Bo: We had a great dinner at the White House where we sang…
BS: You played the piano and you sang.
Bo: Well, I don’t know anything about that. But we all sing some Broadway songs. It is Motown. And some classics.
Boo: There was a spill between them. And I said to myself, “Well, he’s not as shy as I thought, he just has to relax a little.”
BS: I don’t know if I’d say that’s true for most people in my profession, but shyness isn’t unusual. If you weren’t calm, you wouldn’t be desperately looking for a way to talk. The reason you pursue your work, your language, and your voice so urgently is because you didn’t have anything. And once you realize it, you somehow feel the pain of not having a voice.
Bo: So performance becomes the tool and the mechanism…
BS: It becomes the mechanism through which you express the totality of your life, all of your philosophy and the symbol of your life; This is what happened to me. And before that, I felt completely invisible, and there was a lot of pain in this disappearance.
Bo: See? It was because of things like the one I just said after we became friends. Because after a few drinks, maybe between songs, you’d say something like that and say, “Oh, what he’s saying makes sense.” That’s deep water. And I think we were just starting to trust each other and have these kinds of conversations regularly, and when I left the White House we had a chance to spend more time together. And it turns out we hit it pretty well.
BS: The truth is, I felt at home with you.
Bo: And the other thing that happened was that Michelle and Patty hit her. And Michelle was very pleased with your thoughts on your shortcomings as a man. After we left a dinner or a party or some talk, he would say to me, “Do you see how Bruce understands his mistakes and learns to deal with them…?”.
BS: Ha! I am sorry about that.
BO: “…in a way that you don’t? You should be spending more time with Bruce. Because he made the effort.” So I also had a little bit of the impression that he needed to train to be a proper husband.
BS: It was a pleasure.
BO: I was trying to explain: “Look, it takes ten years. I’ve already been through some of these things. I’m still in training mode.” But despite the fact that we come from very different places and obviously have different career paths, the problems I had with her were the same as I did with her. The same joys, the same doubts. There is so much to match.
BS: Well, the politician comes from the personal.
Poe: The musician looks for a way to channel and deal with pain, with demons and personal questions; It is also what a politician does when entering public life.
BS: But you have to have two things happen to you, and they are very difficult. First, you must be selfish…
BS: The paranoia of thinking you have a voice that the whole world should hear. But on the other hand, you should feel tremendous empathy for others.
BO: It’s a tough trick to pull off. It begins with an ego, but at some point it becomes a container of people’s hopes and dreams. You simply become a channel. Today we’re in conversation after we spoke words of mourning for my friend John Lewis, a giant of the civil rights movement who was perhaps as responsible as anyone else for making America a better, freer, and more place. Generously, we hope that our democracy will keep its promise. When I met John he had gone to speak at Harvard, where I was studying at law school. After his presentation, I approached him and said, “You are one of my heroes. You helped me get an idea, at least, of who I wanted to be in this enormous, complex, conflicted, multi-ethnic, multi-ethnic, multi-religious place called the United States.” Because when I got into politics I didn’t think of becoming president. It was a tour. How do I juggle all my different parts? How do I fit in?
BS: to access in this way is to access as a file intruder…
BO: That would be interesting, because I’m going to have to figure out why you thought you were intruder. I know the reasons why I did. But a good jersey boy doesn’t have to be an A intruder. you know what I mean?
BS: I don’t think it’s something you choose! I think it is something innate. I had a very strange upbringing, you know? I grew up in a small town, very rural. Great Freehold City, New Jersey.
BS: About ten thousand people. Sixteen hundred of them worked at the Karagosyan Carpet Factory, my father too. My mother was the breadwinner. My father worked when he could, but he was quite mentally ill. Since he was young, he suffered from schizophrenia, which we didn’t understand at the time, and it made life at home very difficult and prevented him from keeping a steady job. So I say our house was different from the others.
Bo: On the surface, my childhood looks very different.
Pooh: I was born in Hawaii… Hawaii is very far from Freehold, New Jersey.
BS: It’s far from everywhere!
Bo: Yes, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I am the product of a Kansas woman, a teen when she had me and a college student when she met my father, an African student at the University of Hawaii. My grandparents, on the other hand, are mainly Scots-Irish. And so were the Irish strangers for a long time.
BS: Yes, my grandparents were old school Irish. And they were from the provinces and very backward. We all lived in the same house: my parents, my grandparents, and me.
Bo: Your grandparents on the maternal or paternal side?
BS: My grandparents on my father’s side. I was raised by the Irish part of my family, and they were as eccentric as Irish Americans can be. And from a very young age, they instilled in me to be different from others.
* Published with permission from Random House Grupo Editorial, Discussion Seal.
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