Obama and Springsteen's Friendship Includes Their Wives, Too: 'Michelle and Patti Hit It Off'
In their new Spotify series, Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen discuss weighty topics like race in America. They also talk about their friendship — one fortified in part by the bond between their wives, Michelle Obama and Patti Scialfa.
In the first episode of the new podcast, called Renegades, Obama, 59, said he and Springsteen, 71, "grew to trust each other" based on conversations in which they reflected on feeling "invisible" throughout their childhoods.
The politician and the musician have been friends dating back to the 2008 presidential campaign.
"After a few drinks, and maybe in between songs, you'd say something ... and I'd say, 'Aw, that makes sense to me.' And those are some deep waters," Obama said on the podcast, which premiered Monday.
The other part of their bond, he added, was a little more straightforward: "Michelle and Patti hit it off."
Obama went on to tell Springsteen that his wife was appreciative of the singer's openness and humble nature — qualities that she told her own husband he could learn from.
"Michelle was very pleased in the insights you had about your failings as a man," Obama said, to a chuckle from Springsteen.
Obama continued: "And after we would leave a dinner, or a party, or a conversation, she'd say, 'You see how Bruce understands his shortcomings and has come to terms with them — in a way that you have not? Uh, you should spend some more time with Bruce. Because he's put in the work.' And so there was a little also of ... of the sense that I needed to get coached in how to be a proper husband."
"It's been my pleasure," Springsteen joked in response.
The former president added that he tried to defend himself by telling his wife that some of the 10-years-older Springsteen's wisdom came from his age.
"He's been through some of this stuff. I'm still, you know, in training mode," Obama said.
Obama — who equated getting into public life with the way a musician "looks for a way to channel and work through pain, demons, personal questions" — has been increasingly open about his relationship with Mrs. Obama since leaving office in 2017.
In an interview for a November cover of PEOPLE, the former president described the tensions between him and the former first lady when he was in office and explained that their marriage was now thriving, even amid a pandemic.
"I think we came out of it whole," he told PEOPLE then. "There were great joys in the White House. There was never a time where we didn't recognize what an extraordinary privilege it was to be there. Most importantly, our children emerged intact and they are wonderful, kind, thoughtful, creative — and not entitled — young women. So that's a big sigh of relief."
"But," he continued, "during the time we were there, Michelle felt this underlying tension. The pressure, stress, of needing to get everything right, to be 'on' at every moment."
Obama also detailed the couples' struggles in his memoir A Promised Land, published in November.
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On a 2020 episode of her own podcast, the former first lady spoke about the key to a lasting marriage.
"There were times that I wanted to push Barack out of the window. And I say that because it's like, you've got to know the feelings will be intense. But that doesn't mean you quit," Mrs. Obama, who celebrated her 28th wedding anniversary with the former president in October, said on The Michelle Obama Podcast last year. "And these periods can last a long time. They can last years."
Young couples, she added, are often quick to end a relationship when they face an obstacle.
"Young couples, they face these challenges and they're ready to give up because they think they're broken," she explained. "And I just want to say, look, if that breaks a marriage, then Barack and I have been broken off and on, throughout our marriage, but we have a very strong marriage. And if I had given up on it, if I had walked away from it, in those tough times, then I would've missed all the beauty that was there as well."