Podcast odd couple: Obama, Springsteen in Spotify series

Spotify says former President Barack Obama and iconic rocker Bruce Springsteen are making an eight-episode podcast of conversations recorded at Springsteen's home studio in New Jersey

NEW YORK -- Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen are teaming up for an eight-episode Spotify podcast series, swapping stories about their upbringings and even a White House singalong around a piano.

The first two episodes of “Renegades: Born in the USA,” a conversation recorded in Springsteen's guitar-filled home studio in New Jersey, were made available on Monday.

The seemingly offbeat relationship between the former president and rock star began when Springsteen performed benefits for Obama during his presidential campaigns. But it has blossomed into deeper conversations since he left office, Obama said in the first episode.

“He's a rock ‘n’ roll icon,” he said. “I'm a lawyer and politician. Not as cool. And as I like to remind Bruce every chance I get, he's more than a decade older than me.”

The men recalled a White House visit, which included Springsteen playing the piano as Broadway and Motown tunes were sung.

“There were libations involved,” Obama said.

Springsteen uses a few of those guitars during the course of the podcast. In that first episode, both men recalled feeling like outsiders growing up and turning to their fields as a way of finding their voices, with a little “megalomania” involved. In later episodes, they talk about racism, fatherhood and marriage.

Their wives, Michelle Obama and Patti Scialfa, also bonded, sealing their friendship.

“We still have a fundamental belief in the American ideal,” Obama said. “Not as nostalgia. But as a compass.”

Spotify said Monday it was working with Higher Ground on another podcast, “Tell Them I Am,” which compiles stories from Muslim voices and will debut throughout Ramadan.

The service also said it had reached a deal with Warner Brothers and DC Comics for a series of narrative podcasts, with the first being “Batman Unburied.” Director Ava DuVernay is participating in a new podcast about high profile cases of police brutality.

Spotify is also upgrading its sound, announcing that it will debut Spotify HiFi later this year, where members with Spotify-connected speakers can sign up for enhanced quality music streams.