A new album by a celebrated Scots musician brings together the worlds of music and literature, with contributions from some of the country's most famous authors.

Mull Historical Society - AKA Colin MacIntyre - released his ninth studio album on July 21, the first in five years.

Titled In My Mind There's a Room, it's a collection of 14 songs with words from writers about a room which means a lot to them and music by MHS.

Contributors include celebrated Scots authors Ian Rankin and Val McDermid, former national bard Liz Lochhead, children's author Jacqueline Wilson and Fever Pitch author Nick Hornby.

Mr MacIntyre explains: “I’d thought of this about 10 years ago but I didn’t have the concept. But I probably had a list somewhere of authors I loved, people like Sebastian Barry who is a Booker winner and Irish laureate and probably one of my biggest influences.

“I’d met Sebastian at Borders Book Festival a few years ago, and people like him and others on the list have really helped me develop my craft as a writer.

“I also thought that people like Ian Rankin, Nick Hornby are very well known for loving their music, music features quite a lot in their work.

The Herald: Colin MacIntyre of Mull Historical SocietyColin MacIntyre of Mull Historical Society (Image: Sonic PR)

“Jacqueline Wilson, my two daughters are obsessed with her work so that might be a Brownie point or two in my household so I thought I’d try her, Val McDermid I really like her writing. It was basically just a wishlist.

"The first email I got back was the next day, Nick Hornby came back and said, ‘Colin, how could I not be involved in this?’.

“I thought, ‘OK, great, I might be on to something’ and gradually people started coming back and the list started to converge."

Ordinarily Mr MacIntyre would come up with the lyrics and the music on his own, but he took inspiration from the songwriting partnership of Elton John and Bernie Taupin, in which the latter writes the lyrics and the former comes up with the music.

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Did he find it difficult fitting other people's prose, about rooms in which he'd never been, a challenge?

He says: "To be honest I did a lot of it on the hoof. I was literally going over on the Corran Ferry to go up to the studio the first time and still singing melodies into my phone.

"I'd reject some lines or add some in, Ian Rankin's song is ‘My Bedroom Is My Rocket’ and his original title was ‘My Bedroom Is My Rocketship’, which I do say in the song but it just felt like for the title and the chorus I should drop the ‘ship’.

“His words were already quite clearly verse one, verse two, he’s got quite a good sense of that. Others would just be 30-40 lines of prose.

“Val McDermid wrote about her writer’s room, Ian’s was obviously his teenage bedroom which he’s now sent us a photo of him in – funnily enough with an Elton John poster on his bedroom wall – but Val talked about her writer’s room and looking out over the Firth of Forth.

The Herald: Colin MacIntyre of Mull Historical SocietyColin MacIntyre of Mull Historical Society (Image: Sonic PR)

“She talks about the gun metal sea, the yellow walls of her room. She’s now sent us a picture too and it’s quite nice to see the visual but I wouldn’t have wanted that when I was writing the songs because I needed to imagine as well, as I suppose the listener does.

“Elton talks about having these typed lyric sheets from Bernie and plonking them down on the piano. I’m not comparing myself to Elton John at all, but in terms of process I did the same. I had them all typed out, printed off, and if I were to show you those sheets now you’d think a two-year-old had got at them with a biro!

"Because they’re all such fantastic users of words there was no end of choices for me, and actually just emailing back and forth their emails were worthy of songs.

"I think even though they weren’t my stories, in my original approach I suppose I was asking for permission as a fellow creative to honour their work but also have the room to work as a songwriter to shape things and look for common themes.

“They all started from the same brief, just the very simple question of a room that means a lot to them or even one of their characters – though interestingly they all chose personal rooms.

The Herald:

“I felt very comfortable stepping into those rooms. For example, the Red Flame Diner is in Manhattan and that was Stephen Kelman’s story. He got married to his wife in New York, they came from England to be married, and they went to this diner afterward and every year since they return to New York and go back to the diner.

“His words were just stunning to me, I just played something on the piano and it wrote itself. It’s very romantic, it says ‘write your new name in the mirror’ and he talked about the New York skyline and ‘we didn’t climb the Christmas tree’. Who couldn’t be bowled over by Christmas in New York?

“He actually said, ‘do you want more of an explanation of some of the references in it?’ and I didn’t, I said ‘I’d love to hear over a drink at some point’ but there had to be a form of me imagining their rooms and their stories and placing myself in it.

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"Nick Hornby’s is the next single, ‘Panicked Feathers’, which wasn’t titled but he’d mentioned this phrase in it and it’s about him and his friend on hot summers somewhere in South-East England growing up and sitting on a flat roof smoking cigarettes while his older sister was in the room upstairs and her boyfriend would have to climb through Nick’s window to gain access, these teenage boys thumping onto his floor.

"We’ve all been teenage boys – well, some of us have! – so in some ways I could place myself there, there were certain things I could identify with."

The concept of authors writing about an important room didn't come about by chance, with the album recorded in a place of special importance to Mr MacIntyre.

He said: "For some time I’ve wanted to bring together the worlds of music and, as an author myself, books. It all comes from the same place, which is storytelling, but the opportunity of bringing those two worlds together sped up a little bit and came to fruition because a friend, Gordon MacLean, back in Tobermory got in touch last year to say he’d found new recording premises.

The Herald: The studio where the album was recordedThe studio where the album was recorded (Image: Sonic PR)

“He’s a musician back home and I didn’t even know he was looking for anywhere. The place he found, he said it was a nice building, good sea view, it’s on Tobermory main street.

“I’m thinking, ‘ok’ but you could have knocked me over with a feather when I realised it’s actually the flat above Clydesdale Bank – which is where my grandparents lived for 45 years.

“My grandfather was the bank manager and lived above it, but all his life he was a poet and author. He was known as ‘The Bard of Mull’, his name was Angus MacIntyre and as a child he was a huge influence on me – all the family, really.

“The idea to actually step back into those rooms I’d spent my childhood in… since my grandmother left the flat 21 years ago I hadn’t stepped in it, it’s been used as offices and different things since then.

“We just thought of it as normal as kids but it’s quite an unusual building, with a turret looking right down Tobermory main street. I spent so much of my childhood in that turret with my elbows on the windowsill looking to see what was going on at the seafront – I repeated that process, but this time I was making an album.

"I’m back in Mull quite often and I’ll look up at the turret window – I mean I’ve spent the last 25 years having dreams about the place.

“But because it wasn’t in our family anymore I had no cause, or wasn’t able, to go there again.

“He said, ‘you have to the be the first to come up and do a few songs, and that was really the extent of it.

“He didn’t know I’d had this idea to work with authors, and I thought ‘I have to do more than just a song’.

"I can’t wait to get out and play it. We’re doing Belladrum on July 29 then I’m really looking forward to the Edinburgh Festival. On Friday August 4 I’m doing a full band show with strings at Summerhall, which I’ve never played before."

In My Mind There's a Room is out now on Xtra Mile recordings. Mull Historical society will appear at Belladrum Festival on July 29, the Edinburgh Fringe on August 4, Wigtown Book Festival in September and Tobermory Book Festival on October 27.