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Makin Waves Song of the Week: "Right Words, Wrong Song" by James Mastro

By Bob Makin

originally published: 02/23/2024

Makin Waves Song of the Week: "Right Words, Wrong Song" by James Mastro

“Right Words, Wrong Song,” the first single and video from legendary Hoboken singer-songwriter-guitarist James Mastro’s long-awaited debut solo album, “Dawn of a New Error,” is the Makin Waves Song of the Week. PHOTO BY DINA REGINE

After 50 years in such awesome bands as The Bongos and Health & Happiness Show and as sideman to Richard Lloyd, Patti Smith, Ian Hunter, Alejandro Escovedo, Jill Sobule, John Cale, Judy Collins, The Jayhawks, and Southside Johnny, legendary Hoboken singer-songwriter-guitarist James Mastro finally has released a solo album.

“Dawn of a New Error” features the MPress Records LP’s first single, “Right Words, Wrong Song,” the Makin Waves Song of the Week.

As the Makin Waves Song of the Week, “"Right Words, Wrong Song” also can be heard between 6 and 8 p.m. on Feb. 24 on “Radio Jersey” at If you miss it, you can tune in any time in the archives at The Penguin and Mixcloud.

“It seems like these days one has the option to choose the ‘truth’ that works best for them,” James said. “There’s no longer an absolute. Say something enough times and it can become the new truth, science or logic be damned.”

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James produced the song’s funny video that satirizes the media.

The raucously irreverent single features timeless rock hooks, clever lyrics and guest vocals by Ian Hunter, who also appears on the hopeful “The Face of the Sun” and the fast-moving “Three Words.”

James elaborates, "We invited Ian to the studio to see if we could coax him into doing a guest appearance on ‘Right Words, Wrong Song.’ He then coaxed us into adding to two more! He raised all of these songs to a new level, something he just can’t help doing.”

“Dawn of a New Error” finds James firmly in frontman territory, unleashing a total of 11 fiery cuts that recall Elvis Costello, Tom Petty, or Wilco. Produced by longtime and frequent band mate Tony Shanahan (Patti Smith’s bassist, co-producer and musical collaborator) at Hobo Sound, the album was recorded and mixed by Grammy nominee James Frazee (Patti Smith, Sharon Van Etten, Marshall Crenshaw) and mastered by Greg Calbi (Bon Iver, Chicago).

James wrote and sang all the songs, along with playing all guitars and mandolin. Tony plays bass, keyboards, and sang backing vocals.  Noteworthy drummers include the late Louie Appel (Southside Johnny), Brian Griffin (Brandi Carlile, Black Crowes), Steve Goulding (The Mekons, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe), and Bill Dubrow (Yoko Ono, Linda Thompson).

About working with Tony once again, James said, “We work well together, trust each other’s instincts, and have similar record collections and tastes in food and cocktails, so it’s a win-win!”

The LP’s subsequent single is “Someday Someone Will Turn Your Head Around,” a tribute to the WFMU gospel show “Sinner’s Crossroads,” hosted by Kevin Nutt.

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“I still listen to radio and am always hearing and finding great music,” James said. “WFMU in Jersey City, NJ has an amazing gospel show on Thursday evenings. Many a time while driving and listening, I’ve had to pull over because you can’t navigate safely while testifying. This song is inspired by all the great songs and artists I’ve heard on this show.”

James and his all-star band — Tony on bass, The Smithereens great Dennis Diken on drums, Chris Robertson on guitar, and Megan Reilly on back-up vocals and guitar — will play Feb. 24 at Transparent Clinch Gallery in Asbury Park.

For more info, visit

Bob Makin has produced Makin Waves since 1988. Follow Makin Waves on Facebook and contact Bob at


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