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Barack and The Boss are the Renegade Masters

Very proud of that title as I squeeze it in to the Fatboy Slim banger. Oh, the ill behaviour!

My take on the new Spotify original podcast, Renegades

Pic credit: Florida Politics

I've recently reignited my (can I call it a love?) for running which is ironic because I've been accompanied on these runs by Bruce Springsteen, in my ears of course, who dropped the absolute bombshell during his new podcast, that he actually wasn't "Born to Run." Sorry, what? If 'The Boss' is a fraud what chance have we got? Next you'll tell me Bowie wasn't really a**ed about space travel! Anyway, with trust levels somewhat diminished, I decided to write something a bit different for me, based on my experience pounding the pavements and listening to this latest audio treat. I say "different for me" as if I've been writing for years, never mind mere months. At the start of the year I didn't really expect to be writing anything just because so I'm just going with the flow. My taste in podcasts is pretty much like my taste in music...totally eclectic and random and that's the way I like it. Unrelated, but I'm the total opposite when it comes to films and I'm a straight up 'based on a true story' kinda gal. Unless it's Disney or Harry Potter, which I experienced firstly as a child and all children have to believe in magic or they'll never find it! Sorry for the plagiarism Roald Dahl or was it Walt Disney?...Who knows! Lainey Disney...oh dear! Puns, song lyrics and terrible about more "ill behaviour"!

Anyway, now that you know the conditions attached to my accepting a cinema invite or even "Netflix and chill", (form an orderly queue please), I'll get on with what I was originally talking about. So, podcasts. Podcasts are another interest that lockdown has given me...I'm ALL about the clichés! I only listened to my first ever podcast last year while jumping on the 'home improvement' bandwagon and doing a bit of painting- probably after baking banana bread and before playing a board game...BINGO...full house! I love music and have lots of banging playlists, well I think they are anyway, but I've discovered that listening to podcasts passes the time really quickly and I get so engrossed in the stories. Also, when you're running, just one song can seem to last an age, whereas when it's just constant chat I lose all concept of time. All very psychological but whatever method or mindset shift can result in anything resembling motivation then I'm riding that train all day long! I've enjoyed a lot of the popular and indeed very brilliant podcasts. They're high in the ratings for a reason and I find people a bit exhausting who refuse to like anything popular, solely because it's popular. Anyway, back to popular opinion, namely Fearne Cotton's Happy Place is amazing and she is an absolute DREAM! She's also the only woman that I can think of who can get away unscathed and without derogatory remarks for telling us which knickers she has on at the start of every episode. Oh what a prudish, judgmental society we live in sometimes. If someone wants to tell you about their undies can we just be cool with that please?

Anyway, seamlessly moving from pants to podcasts! I just love hearing other people's stories. I also like to try to find podcasts that I haven't heard many people talking about and then I can tell people about them. The first podcast I listened to last summer was called United Zingdom and it was brilliant. Much like Renegades, Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen's new Spotify original; eight episodes of enlightenment and my inspiration to write this piece, it's all about lived experience and identity. United Zingdom features Singapore-born Zing Tsjeng, living in the UK and having to make the extremely difficult decision whether to give up her Singapore passport for a (blue, maroon, multi-coloured?) British one or to keep her Singapore one. Unfortunately (or fortunately for me as a listener), Singapore do not allow dual citizenship. Such a hard decision to make and I loved experiencing her great deliberation and various 'light-bulb moments' in favour of one choice, to then do a complete 'one-eighty' almost immediately when presented with other scenarios and 'food for thought' from the people she recruited to help her decide: people from all different areas of the UK, with the aim of showing what it means to them to be British.

Britishness is not a question which I'm asking for an answer to or an opinion on, FYI. Pipe down Rees-Mogg et al. thank you very much! "Happy British fish" springs to mind as I write this...sigh! If you have no clue what I'm talking about with that, just thank your lucky stars! Or if you really want to know, just google Jacob Rees-Mogg proclaiming that fish that were basically doomed in a post-Brexit Britain were happier because they were now "British fish". What a load of CODswallop! Anyway, back to Zing, I have tried to google what she finally decided to do, with no joy. The end result doesn't particularly matter to me being honest. I just enjoyed being a listener on her journey of 'self-discovery' which I'm unsure would have ever truly reached a conclusion or destination. But then, does it ever for anyone, really?

pic credit: Bustle

Whether you're someone like Zing, facing this unenviable dilemma, a 'Bathgate Bairn' like me living in my country and basically town of birth or an American "Born in the U.S.A" (see what I did there?) is anyone ever immune to a good dose of identity crisis? Hasn't everyone felt turmoil or indeed crisis around their identity, their 'make up', where they belong, where they fit? Feeling positively patriotic one minute and then pure shame and dismay at the state of things the next. (Read above on "Happy British Fish!") Life is ever evolving and rotating and we're just simply along for the ride and that's the case whether you're 'The Boss', the President or just a person stranded on this planet without a route map. That's what this podcast series explores. It's probably not a 'spoiler' to let you know that Zing never did discover what Britishness could be defined as, the same as it was never revealed in Renegades what a 'real' American is. Well, thank goodness for that!

I haven't heard anyone else talk about Renegades and I'm pretty surprised by this. Maybe people just don't feel the need to announce to the world, (or the few people who read my blog), what they're listening to. You've maybe got to this stage and are wishing I was one of those said people but I'm afraid that isn't so. Anyway, given the platform and popularity both of these men have I just found it surprising, that's all really. I was also curious to feel compelled to write about something kinda mainstream, or at least I'd expect it is, but as I said I've not heard people talking about it, so maybe not? Basically, it was just something a bit different for me, for the whole 2 months I've been writing blogs. Usually, I end up writing about recent events, my dismay at many, many injustices or, more positively, things my friends are up to. Cheering them on through my writing, which I absolutely LOVE to do. Let's face it, they're more likely to appreciate and read it than two absolute icons across the pond but I'm just writing for me and if someone reads and maybe likes something, anything that I explore then that's a wee personal "yay!" moment for me. Full service will resume shortly as I am currently reading my friend's brand new book and I definitely plan to write about it as soon as I finish. It's so good and the blog on it will surely be amazing and not to be missed...

I'm going to do something I really don't like to do and that's talk about stereotypes. As much as I don't agree or actively promote or confine my thinking to gender stereotypes, I can state with certainty that some of the podcasts that I listen to have a dominantly female listenership. Not exclusively, of course, but notably enough. Some of the men I know wouldn't feel drawn to this sort of content but I feel that Renegades is something which can be universally enjoyed. Furthermore, and sticking with stereotypes...oh, the discomfort continues...I also think both Obama and Springsteen are typical "men's men". On the surface, that is. There, I've said it...eek! Rock stars, husbands, fathers, heroes, powerful men talking about cars and music and lots of man things. Well pass me a Yorkie, I'm in! Oh wait...I'm a girl and it's the early noughties and I'm not allowed a Yorkie. They're s**** anyway and I wouldn't want one but if I was told I wasn't allowed one, that's a different story! For anyone blissfully unaware, this was a marketing campaign in the UK which suggested that a certain type of chocolate bar was "not for girls!" You'll be glad to know it's 2021 and this podcast, as well as all confectionary, is for everyone.

I personally feel like a lot of my male friends- many musicians or decent guys who are into politics (yes, those rare breeds exist) or just anyone really who likes stories of life experiences, would really enjoy just listening to these two pals "shooting the breeze"- I feel this phrase is a bit more American-sounding than my Bathgate twang of "chewin' the fat". I've also not been able to get the image, or should I say DREAM, of the "Motown and Musicals" singalong nights until "six in the morning" (Kevin Bridges voice) at the White House which the 'lads' (lads, lads!) reminisced over. If I make it to heaven, please let it be exactly this scene!

I also just really loved hearing each man talk about their love for their wife (yes, I'm a soppy romantic), family life, influences: music, culture, racial inequality, fitting in, standing out, finding their voice. It just had everything! Most of all I loved the vulnerability of what was being shared. Two pals having a catch up and talking about not actually being "born to run" and a longing and desire for stability, family values, roots. Normal, universally relatable aims and goals. Priceless things. Chats about mental health, from men. More of this please! A story from an icon like Springsteen, sitting in a "doctors office" and crying and confessing to mental health struggles. Not a weakness. Strength. Inspiration. Being at rock bottom. Struggling. Searching. Relatable. Real. Life.

The last episode of the podcast ends with a bright glimmer of hope and with Obama placing faith and trust in the world's young people and their ability to make things better and hopefully more equal when it's their time. Oh, how I do hope so! On the subject of young people I feel compelled to share a funny encounter I had with my seven year old nephew just the other night and before I even thought about writing about this or anything relating to America or politics. I was helping Harris with a confidence boosting worksheet which he was completing where he was being asked to write five things he loves about himself. I can think of a million and not one biased, I swear! He was really struggling. Finally, we compromised and he changed it to likes about himself and I decided to "pick my battles" and concede on that one. So the conversation went like this...

<Enter stage Left. A woman and her nephew are sitting at a kitchen table. Her nephew just wants to get this over with and get back to his iPad>

Harris: Auntie Elaine, it's not good to love yourself because Donald Trump loves himself and he's not a good man so Joe Biden must not love himself as he's the opposite of Donald Trump.

Auntie Elaine: No Harris, Joe Biden must love himself too as he was confident enough to run for President and genuinely think he can do a good job. It's ok to love yourself and be confident as long as it's for the right reasons. So, what are you going to write that you like about yourself?

Harris: I like that I want to destroy Donald Trump's wall!

Can't argue with that. I turned this into a positive and told him this was good and shows that he wants to stick up for people who are being unfairly treated. This may not have been in his seven year old head but I was clutching at straws and the conversation was enough for me to be proud that he is more of a Joe that a Donald.


Useful links

Renegades the podcast on Spotify-

United Zingdom the podcast on BBC Sounds- BBC Sounds - United Zingdom - Downloads

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