The humour, uncanny perceptiveness and rare talents of Matt McGinn have made him a household name in Scotland and in folk circles throughout the world. It would be impossible to include a sample of all Matt's natural gifts on one record, but a representative cross-section are displayed here on his 'first RCA album. This certainly one of the most enjoyable recording sessions I have worked on, and I hope the warm atmosphere Matt and his friends created comes across to the listener. I hope also, that his many fans agree with Matt when he says, "This by far the best album I've recorded to date". Matt McGinn is a native of Gallowgate, one of Glasgow's less affluent areas, a bizarre part of the old town in whose tenement closes and back courts grew the seeds of his music, poetry, social observation and unique humour. The eighth child in his family, Matt first saw the grey light of the Gallowgate day in 1928, two years after the General Strike. His childhood spanned the terrible Depression years of the thirties, and in his early teens he lived through the Second- World War and the drab, ration-book years that followed. But the McGinn family was well accustomed to living on less than the bare necessities of life long before food coupons were introduced and the urchins of the tenements had to get their "luxuries" the hard way, by raiding local dairies and bakers' shops. The juvenile courts of the time had very definite ways of treating these young unfortunates, and so Matt spent his 13th and 14th birthdays in St. Mary's Remand Home, Bishopbriggs.
In April 1942, the liberated McGinn returned to the small room and kitchen on the ground floor of the Gallowgate tenement, which was his family home. Four days later, Matt's father died, victim of a respiratory ailment, which was one of Glasgow's plagues.
During the next four years, Matt moved from one job to another, always hoping for that few extra bob to help his mother and the other young McGinns. Then, partly due to the early influence of his father, partly through the inquisitive awe inspired by Glasgow's street corer soap-box orators, and partly due to the bitter experiences of his own young life, Matt plunged sincerely and deeply into back street politics. He also married and settled into his own wee "single end" in the Gallowgate.
Other influences, broader and further seeking than those of the Gallowgate thirties and forties, have made their mark on Matt McGinn. His poems first became noticed in the early fifties, and by the end of the decade, Matt's determination, natural gifts and vision made him a prominent figure in the contemporary Glasgow folk movement. His reputation spread to America where, in 1962, he sang in a Carnegie Hall concert with Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger. Today he is regarded as one of Britain's most powerful folk writers with some 500 songs to his credit and, as a performer of his inimitably potent songs; he is Scotland's leading folksinger.
Matt McGinn has come a long way since the post-Depression years in the Gallowgate, and yet he says... "TAKE ME BACK TO THE JUNGLE". Perhaps the secret of Matt's success is that, deep down, he never really left.