|M - O - M|
Born in 1928 and raised near the Gallowgate, in the Calton district in the east end of Glasgow, McGinn was one of nine siblings who shared a two-roomed flat with their parents. He was a natural comic who became probably the most prolific writer ever of songs about life in Glasgow.
In October 1940, having been caught breaking into a fruit shop, he was sent to St. Mary's Approved School for one and a half years. This formed the basis of his only novel 'Fry The Little Fishes'.
After this, McGinn had a succession of jobs: a blacksmith's assistant in a foundry, a van boy with lemonade producer Dunn's, and as a message boy for a florist. He began to get heavily interested in politics, and read voraciously on the topic. He joined the Communist Party in 1949, and became a Daily Worker seller and street corner speaker on Brunswick Street and at the Barras.
Matt met Janette Gallacher through the Party, and they soon married and, several children and homes later, he was working for Harland and Wolff. He first left the party in 1956, as a response to Hungary, came back into membership and later left again. After McGinn re-applied to join after this second resignation, the Secretary of the local Party sent him a neatly perforated card, ready for ceremonial destruction at some stage in the future!
He got a job in the screw factory of Guest Keen and Nettlefold. Within a couple of days he had organised a strike and been elected shop steward, a position he held down for four years, after which he was awarded a scholarship to Ruskin College by the T&G. Having studied for an OxfordUniversity Diploma in Economics and Political Science of two years, the following year he trained to become a teacher at Huddersfield.
McGinn found himself in the folk song business after winning a contest with his song `The Foreman O'Rourke’. A prolific songwriter, he was reputed to sometimes write six songs in a day. He then performed widely and music became an integral part of his life, releasing many records, or albums, in 1963, 1966, 1968, 1971, 1972 and 1975 before his untimely death in 1977. A list of McGinn’s songs and an example of his work in the form of his famous poem, “The Bee from The OldTown of Effen”, which ought be self-explanatory (!), follows:
He kept bees in the old town of Effen,
An Effen beekeeper was he,
And one day this Effen beekeeper,
Was stung by a big Effen bee.
Now this big Effen beekeeper's wee Effen wife,
For the big Effen polis she ran
For there's nobody can sort out a big Effen bee,
Like a big Effen polisman can.
This big Effen polisman did his nut,
And he ran down the main Effen street,
In his hand was a big Effen baton,
He had big Effen boots on his feet.
The polis got hold of this big Effen bee,
And he twisted the Effen bees wings,
But the big Effen bee got his own back,
For the big Effen bee had two stings.
Now they're both in the Effen museum,
Where the Effen folk often come see,
The remains of the big Effen polis,
Stung to death by the big Effen bee.
Ballad of the Q4
Ban the Beatles
Big Orange Whale
Cead Mile Failte
Celebrated Working Man's
Cradle of Civilisation
First Man On the Moon
Get Up, Get Out
Have a Banana
Honesty Is Out Of the Fashion
If It Wisnae for the Union
I'm Looking for a Job
In a Neat Little Town
I've Packed Up My Bags
Life is a Fountain
Little Ticks of Time
Lots of Little Soldiers
Man They Could Not Hang
My Wee Auntie Sarah
Old Johnny Bull
On the Beach at Portobello
Rich Man's Paradise
Ros In the Bow
Screwtops Are Falling On My Head
Sequel to The Dundee Weaver
Skinny Malinky Long Legs
Skull and Crossbones
Take Me Back to the Jungle
Tell Me What the Tea Leaves Tell Me
The Donibristle Moss Moran Disaster
The Foreman O'Rourke
The Swan-Necked Valve
Three Nights and a Sunday
Tinny Can On My Tail
To-Night at the Attic
Troubled Waters In My Soul
Two Foot Tall
Two Heided Man
Two Heided Man Strikes Again
Two Wee Germs
Unner Alow the Ground
Wi' Jimmy Reid and Airlie
With Fire and with Sword
Wurram and the Sparra
Yes, Yes, U.C.S.