The Definitives: “The Lighthouse”

This is the start of a new series of posts that I’ve been tossing around for a while.  The Definitive series will be taking a classic song from the SG genre and I will give my pick for the best version of the song.  First up is one of the most iconic songs in SG history, “The Lighthouse.”

Written by Ronnie Hinson, this song was of course originally performed by the Hinsons, but was covered by a plethora of groups.  Popular versions were recorded by the Goodmans, the Oak Ridge Boys, and the Downings among others, but pretty much every major group has covered the song at some point in their career.  There are a lot of really good versions, but the version recorded in 1972 by JD Sumner and the Stamps on Something Special rises above all the rest.  Donnie Sumner sings the verses on the Stamps’ version of the song, and it may well be the single best recorded vocal of his career.  Sumner sings the song with the power and range that really drives the song home, going up to (I think) a sustained A above middle C on the tag.  The power harmonies from the rest of the quartet are spot on.  If you’ve got a copy of the album, pull it back out and try not to take a shouting fit by the end of the song.

Many artists have covered “The Lighthouse”, and there are truly many fine versions of the song, but no one has ever been able to equal the Stamps and Donnie Sumner.

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