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That One Time Bruce Springsteen Sang to Obama About Marijuana

September 23, 2016

Bruce Springsteen is a home slice of Americana, known best for his work with the E Street Band. New Jersey’s most famous export has served as a voice for the working class throughout his decades-long career, but it was his sly ode to President Obama during the latter’s 2012 reelection campaign that truly won over our cannabis-friendly hearts.

The Boss was born in the USA, in his hometown of Long Branch, New Jersey. He was inspired by the likes of Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and a fellow New Jersey singer, Frank Sinatra. True to his blue collar roots, his first performances were in 1964 at a trailer park on New Jersey Route 34 with an $18 guitar.

Springsteen didn’t achieve commercial success until the early 1970’s, when he formed the E Street Band (although they were not named as such for a few more years). One of his first hits was “Blinded by the Light,” in which critics compared his lyrical folksy sound to Bob Dylan.

In fact, Springsteen’s voice and musical style was much more popular with critics than it was commercially. His second album, The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle, was met with critical acclaim but achieved no commercial success.

In 1974, a musical critic named Jon Landau saw Springsteen perform at the Harvard Square Theatre and wrote, “I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen. And on a night when I needed to feel young, he made me feel like I was hearing music for the very first time.”

Landau ended up becoming Springsteen’s manager and producer and together, they recorded the epic rock album, Born to Run.

On August 13, 1975, Springsteen and the E Street band began a five-night, 10-show stand at New York’s Bottom Line Club. This was a moment that Rolling Stone later deemed one of the 50 Moments That Changed Rock and Roll. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played to sold out shows with a full house and a newly released, commercially successful album.

Never one to shy away from politics, Springsteen has long been vocal about his feelings towards presidential candidates. When Ronald Reagan used the song “Born in the USA” during his presidential campaign, Springsteen declined to endorse the candidate; in fact, when Reagan’s opponent, Walter Mondale, remarked “Bruce Springsteen may have been born to run, but he wasn’t born yesterday,” implying that Springsteen was behind his candidacy, Springsteen made it clear that he would not officially endorse either candidate.

These days, he is more open about his politics. John Kerry used “No Surrender” while running his presidential campaign in 2008, and Barack Obama included the track “I’m on Fire” on a 2008 playlist of Obama’s favorite songs.

Obama also asked the Boss to appear on the campaign trail in 2012 with a pro-Obama song written specifically for the occasion. Only one problem: there’s not a whole lot of words that rhyme with “Obama.” By the final verse, Bruce was picking at straws. Taking a note from The Onion’s cheeky interpretation of the vice president, Springsteen sang on.

“Smiling Joe Biden brought the drama,” he crooned, “Fox News said he’d been smoking marijuana.” This brought raucous laughter from the audience and he finished on a solid, “Forward and away we go!”

Bruce Springsteen’s birthday commemorates the release of his new autobiography, Born to Run, and in the same breath, he shows us that he forever remains The Boss. True to his roots and his politics, Springsteen will always be in our hungry hearts.

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Lisa Rough

Lisa is a former associate editor at Leafly, where she specialized in legislative cannabis policy and industry topics.

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