No, of course, John Wayne didn’t live in Hoboken. The title character of “John Wayne Lives in Hoboken” refers to Hoboken actor Matty “John Wayne” Russo, who played a longshoreman in the classic movie “On the Waterfront,” and uttered the line the Delevantes quote: “Who do you see to get a day’s pay around here?”
The song also mentions a more famous Hobokenite, Frank Sinatra, and paints an affectionate portrait of both Russo and the Mile Square City itself: “As the street cools down, if the light’s just right/Yeah, it seems like it’s almost magic some nights.”
Brothers Bob and Mike Delevante, originally from Rutherford, moved to Hoboken, and then Nashville, and released two albums in the ’90s (Long About That Time and Postcards From Along the Way). “John Wayne Lives in Hoboken” was on the latter, which was produced by Garry Tallent of the E Street Band, though the version below is from the 1997 Folk: Live From Mountain Stage compilation.
The brothers still live in Nashville, and still play music, but primarily work in other professions.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.
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