“The event that started the race rioting that we had in town at the time was a shooting at a stop light,” Springsteen tells Obama, referencing the song’s second verse. “A car full of white kids with a shotgun firing into a car full of Black kids. A friend of mine lost his eye.”
Springsteen says he realized a deeper meaning to the song, which he says he still loves to sing. “You are a part of the general flow of history, and as such what is happening and what has happened is partly your responsibility. You know? You were tied in historically to the good and the bad things that have happened, not just in our little town, but in our country, and as an active player in this moment in time you have some power to acknowledge these things and perhaps do something about them in some small way.”
Obama addressed how the podcast developed as he and his wife tried to make sense of where we are in America and how to unify the divisive landscape.
“That topic came to dominate so many of my conversations last year — with Michelle, with my daughters and with friends. And one of the friends just happened to be Mr. Bruce Springsteen,” he said in a statement. “On the surface, Bruce and I don’t have a lot in common. But over the years, what we’ve found is that we’ve got a shared sensibility. About work, about family and about America. In our own ways, Bruce and I have been on parallel journeys trying to understand this country that’s given us both so much. Trying to chronicle the stories of its people. Looking for a way to connect our own individual searches for meaning and truth and community with the larger story of America.”
Episode 1, which delves into their friendship, and episode 2, which looks at their early experiences with racism, are available for free and premium users today, with new episodes posting every Monday.