> Folk Music > Songs > The John MacLean March

The John MacLean March

[ Roud - ; DT JHNMCLN ; Mudcat 7730 , 44552 ; words Hamish Henderson, music trad.]

Mrs Budge and Hamish Henderson sang John MacLean’s March at the 1951 Edinburgh People’s Festival Ceilidh. Another 1951 recording of Hamish Henderson was included in 2011 on the anthology of Scottish recordings by Alan Lomax, Whaur the Pig Gaed on the Spree.

The Clutha sang John MacLean’s March on their 1971 Argo album Scotia!. Don Martin commented in the liner notes:

The memory of John MacLean is undoubtedly cherished more than that of any other Clydeside workers’ leader. His ideas on education of the people in Marxist principles are now a legend. This song was written by Hamish Henderson of the School of Scottish Studies to a traditional pipe tune. It has been praised by Hugh MacDiarmid. the poet.

Dick Gaughan sang John MacLean’s March in 1972 on his first album on the Trailer label No More Forever. He noted:

[John MacLean] was a Scottish schoolteacher and Marxist educator who was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment in 1918 for agitating against the carnage of World War 1. Due to popular outrage and demonstrations, he was released after 7 months but the harsh treatment he received in prison seriously damaged his health and he died a few years later.

His vision of an independent Scottish Socialist Republic disagreed strongly with Lenin and with Gallacher and other leading Scots Communists of the time as he was opposed to the integration of the Scots within the British Communist Party.

Danny Spooner sang John MacLean’s March on his 2008 CD Brave Bold Boys. He commented:

Written by Hamish Henderson to a pipe march of the same name the song honours a great fighter for human rights. In the early 20c, Clydeside’s John MacLean, a teacher, was imprisoned and tortured for anti-war activities and trying to teach socialism in schools. He was elected to parliament while in prison. A master orator, he urged men not to fight, because “there is a worker on both ends of a bayonet”. He died as a result of his ill treatment in prison and it is said that one hundred thousand followed his funeral through Glasgow.

The Laggan sang John MacLean’s March on the 2003 Hamish Henderson tribute album A’ the Bairns o Adam.

Fraser and Ian Bruce sang John MacLean’s March in 2017 on their CD Auld Hat New Heids.


Dick Gaughan sings John MacLean’s March

Hey, mac, did ye see him as he cam doun by Gorgie
Awa owre the Lammerlaw an north o the Tay?
Yon man is comin an the hail toun is turnin out
We’re aa shair he’ll win back tae Glesca the day
The jiners an hauders-on are merchin fae Clydebank
Come on nou an hear him he’ll be owre thrang tae bide
Turn out Jock an Jimmie, leave yer cranes an yer muckle gantries
Great John MacLean’s comin hame tae the Clyde

Argyll St and London Road’s the route that we’re merchin
The lauds frae the Broomielaw are here, tae a man!
Hey Neil, whaur’s yer hauderums, ye big Heilan teuchtar
Get yer pipes, mate, an merch at the heid o the clan
Hullo, Pat Malone, shair A knew ye’d be here, so,
The red an the green, laud, we’ll wear side by side
Gorbals is his the day an Glesca belangs tae him
Nou great John MacLean’s comin hame tae the Clyde

Forward tae Glesca Green we’ll merch in guid order
Will grips his banner weill, that boy isnae blate!
Aye, weill, man, thair’s Johnnie nou, that’s him thair the bonnie fechter
Lenin’s his feir, laud, and Liebknecht’s his mate
Tak tent whan he’s speakin for thae’ll mind whit he said here
In Glesca, our city, an the hail warl besides
Och man the scarlet’s bonnie, here’s tae ye Heilan Shonie
Great John MacLean’s comin hame tae the Clyde

Aye weill, whan it’s feenisht A’ll awa back tae Springburn
Come hame tae yer tea, John, we’ll sune hae ye fed
It’s hard wark the speakin, och, A’m shair he’ll be tired the nicht
A’ll sleep on the flair, mac, an gie John the bed
The hail city’s quiet nou, it kens that he’s restin
At hame wi’s Glesca freens, thair fame an thair pride
The red will be worn, ma lauds, an Scotlan will merch again
Nou great John MacLean has come hame tae the Clyde