Renegades: Born in the USA

Audio Sample

Publisher:
Higher Ground, Spotify

Renegades: Born in the USA

4.2/5

Critic Rating

Renegades: Born in the USA is a series of conversations between President Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen about their lives, music, and enduring love of America—despite all its challenges.


Critic Reviews

Score: 5

Michael Walsh • Yonkers Public Library Feb 22, 2022

"Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen beautifully articulate their views on many topics in Renegades: Born in the USA...it is moving and inspirational to hear them talk about stories from their lives. It is interesting to hear how their lives were so different and yet they felt emotionally the same during parts of it. This is especially in regards to their fathers and how they how tried to be different from them in certain ways. Their wisdom and honesty can be appreciated by all."

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Score: 4.5

Craig Jenkins • Vulture Mar 9, 2021

"Both Obama and Springsteen make intriguing podcast hosts, as public figures whose way with words is a function of meticulous craft: Bruce as a songwriter and Barack as a speaker, one known as much for the insight and optimism of his words as for the pregnant pauses between them. Renegades suffers from a pacing issue; there’s an almost unusual amount of dead air here. Sometimes it scans as two people comfortable enough with each other to relish the silence. Sometimes you’ll find yourself checking to see if you’ve dropped WiFi. This podcast isn’t trying to change the country or offer solutions. Its only intention is to use our distance from the worst points in our past as motivation to keep pushing, and to model a way of celebrating our differences at a time where that seems increasingly difficult. To that end, at least, Renegades is hearty comfort food."

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Score: 3.5

David Klion • The New Republic Mar 3, 2021

"I didn’t go into this as a dedicated hater, in other words; while I was skeptical, I was willing to entertain the possibility that I might actually enjoy listening to Renegades. Unfortunately, judging by its first two episodes, the podcast commits the unforgivable sin of being boring. So far, Renegades is less than the sum of its parts, and it leaves me wondering how they could have made it a more worthwhile exercise. I believe these two men are actually friends, but I believe that in spite of this podcast, which does a mediocre job of demonstrating it."

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Score: 4.2

Lauren Michele Jackson • New Yorker Feb 28, 2021

"I am dwelling on the chewier moments of “Renegades,” but for the most part it is clean and pleasant and airy, even when the men are discussing politics directly. By Episode Two, I’d almost grown accustomed to the duo’s rumble and rasp as it followed me into the kitchen, providing a lulling soundtrack as I unloaded the dishwasher and measured out tea. How distant this man sounds from himself, advancing the ideal of American pluralism then and now. The projection of the orator has been replaced by the proximity of the interviewer, and neither from this vantage sounds particularly moving."

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Score: 4.5

Fiona Sturges • Financial Times Feb 28, 2021

"Renegades’ production is pristine, as befitting a series with a hefty budget and featuring such famous figures. There may be listeners who are irked by hearing a pair of rich men sitting in a fancy pad pontificating over society’s great failures, but there is wisdom, poignance and vast combined experience in their ruminations. Springsteen and Obama are unlikely to heal America’s troubles with their project, but it’s nice to hear them trying."

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Score: 4

Miranda Sawyer • The Guardian Feb 27, 2021

"To be honest, they could be talking about anything. One of my mates has listened to the opening episode on replay, every night. This is a specific aural niche, with some hardcore fans. (Not me: Brucie’s not my type.)…"

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Score: 4

James Marriot • The Times UK Feb 23, 2021

"The format is familiar from a thousand other podcasts: two friends shooting the breeze about their lives and the issues of the day. Both are able to find the heart in a kind of liberal politics which may sound too technocratic or moderate to be really emotional. Springsteen also speaks convincingly about racism and the race riots he watched in his town as a teenager in a way that sounds sincere, unlike some of the blandly worthy stuff provided by some Hollywood celebrities on the issue. The production is unimpeachably classy and unobtrusive use is made of the audio medium. Springsteen plays a fragment of his song My Hometown, which adds nice emotional heft."

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Score: 4.5

Ashlie D. Stevens • Salon Feb 23, 2021

""Renegades: Born in the USA" promises to be a balm for that. At a time when the country is so fractured, due, in large part, to a president who refused to admit he was wrong, it's refreshing to hear two men — who both represent America in their own ways — enthusiastically discuss overcoming their shortcomings and coming out better on the other side. As Springsteen puts it in the podcast, to change, you've got to forsake ego and "empty out and become a vessel" for empathy."

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Score: 4

Bill Goodykoontz • Arizona Republic Feb 23, 2021

"The new Obama-Springsteen podcast is long on talk and short on drama. The two are friends, we learn. That helps. There is a built-in comfort and camaraderie that makes the conversation natural. (Too much so at times, like when they’re fiddling around with microphone set-ups at the start. I know there are some people who will listen to either one of them do anything, but this tests that.) They seem to enjoy the sound of each other’s voices, and their own. They’re two people, after all, who are confident in their own ideas, and they both have been enormously successfully in their respective fields on the basis of those ideas."

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