Drinkin’ Coffee and Makin’ Stuff Up

Drinkin' Coffee and Makin' Stuff Up

By Kara Martinez Bachman

Mark “Brink” Brinkman said his mission statement is: “To drink coffee and make stuff up.” It’s a pretty good mission, and by all appearances, he’s fulfilling it. Thank goodness, people like what this prolific songwriter “makes up.”

Brinkman said, succinctly, “I write every day,”

He might be writing a song that will eventually be recorded by a band, such as Sideline; they’ve already recorded four Brinkman numbers. It might be recorded by Michael Cleveland, or Russell Moore, or Larry Sparks. Even Lorraine Jordan. The list of musicians who have performed his music is huge. 

Depending on what’s happening, he might either be writing all by his lonesome or collaborating with someone else. He said he’s been co-writing with David Stewart a lot lately and has done close to 100 songs over the years with Paula Breedlove. He’s a songwriting machine. 

“I’ve had right around 400 songs recorded over the years,” Brinkman said. That includes about 17 number one hits. “I think I had 20 songs recorded last year …I’ve had as many as 38 in a year.” 

One example of a Brinkman song that topped charts was his first number-one, “Bluestone Mountain,” recorded by Don Rigsby in the late 1990s. He said that first hit opened many doors, and today, he pitches his music to a vast network of professional musicians — ranging from legendary to beginner level — who know and trust his work.

He never has a specific purpose for a song. He’s never sure where it will end up, who will record it. He just goes with the flow and when an idea comes, he follows it down the unknown road for which it’s intended.

“I don’t really write for anybody,” Brinkman explained. “Sometimes I have a melody, or hook line, in my head, or a story. I try to write the best song I can, and only then do I ask: Where is this gonna fall?”

Video of Social Distancing

“I don’t really write for anybody,” Brinkman explained. “Sometimes I have a melody, or hook line, in my head, or a story. I try to write the best song I can, and only then do I ask: Where is this gonna fall?”

Several of his songs “fell” onto a special album that was just released on the Pinecastle label. Originally the brainchild of performer Lorraine Jordan, the “United We Stand” album — featuring four or five sings penned by Brinkman — pays homage to, and is a charity benefit for, military veterans. Brinkman said he’s a supporter of the specific group it helps, Guitars 4 Vets. Donating talent to the album are artists including Deeper Shade of Blue, Billy Droze, Williamson Branch, and more.

“They [Guitars 4 Vets] work with PTSD vets,” Brinkman said, explaining the organization gives veterans guitar lessons and access to a guitar, and after completion of ten lessons, the budding musician gets to keep the guitar to continue making music.

Ordinarily, Brinkman said he does “a ton of shows” and also participates in many songwriter festivals, where he will perform and “tell the stories behind the songs.” He said almost all of this has been “shut down due to Corona.” In the meantime, he’s staying busy, continuing to fulfill his mission statement of drinkin’ coffee and writin’ tunes.

A special point of pride is that Brinkman was instrumental in the establishment of the IBMA Songwriter Award, one of his focuses during a three-year stint on the IBMA Songwriting Committee.

The award-winning Brinkman just loves songwriting and everything about it. He writes about everything under the sun. Think about it: by the time you’ve written 400 songs, you’ve gotta be open to whatever ideas come your way.

“Some are slow, some are fast,” he explained. “Some are funny, some are serious. It’s just whatever moves me at the time.”