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.

About Wes Burke
I'm a .NET developer and Southern Gospel music fan. Married with a wonderful family.

8 Responses to The Definitives: “The Lighthouse”

  1. bravesfan513 says:

    Oh, I’m looking forward to this series. I am not familiar with this Stamps version. The two that stick out most in my mind are the original Hinsons cut, and the one on King’s Gold IV. Parker Jonathan has the first verse, and Mark Trammell drills the second one.

  2. Wes Burke says:

    That KingsGold cut is great. Bryan Hutson does a fantastic job on a table project by The Kingsmen back in the 90s as well. Lots of good versions of this song exist. On the Elvis bio-pic “Elvis On Tour”, there is a segment talking about how after concerts Elvis and his entourage would stick around and sing Gospel music until the wee hours of the morning, and it’s stated that this was one of his favorite songs to hear the Stamps sing. There’s a video clip of them singing this song backstage, and Elvis can’t do anything but listen with his head in his hands as Donnie Sumner absolutely drills the song.

  3. Roger says:

    Donnie is great singer, but ” The Lighthouse, Wanted Live , Rusty Goodman” AWESOMELY UNTOUCHABLE

  4. Brad says:

    This sounds like a great feature…I’m looking forward to it. I have not heard the Stamps version, but I doubt anyone could touch Kenny Hinson in my book.

  5. Ben Harris says:

    I guess I from the school of “I never considered it Traditional Southern Gospel”, but more in the vein of country gospel. But then again, I did love Rusty singing just about anything.

  6. John Crenshaw says:

    First, let me say that I never really cared for this song.

    That being said, I’ve never heard a version better than Donnie Sumner and the Stamps. However, the recorded version is pale in comparison to watching the Stamps perform this song in concert. I’ve never seen a singer put more feeling into a song than Donnie did with “The Lighthouse”. For those of you that never experienced this song in a concert setting, I wish I could fully describe it to you. Donnie Sumner owned the stage and the auditorium when he performed “The Lighthouse”.

    I’ve seen (and heard) WAY too many people sing this song (Kenny, Rusty, Bryan, Ken, Ed . . . the list goes on ad nauseum), but IMHO, nobody put the feeling into this song like Donnie Sumner. Great choice, Wes!

  7. quartet-man says:

    The version on “Elvis On Tour” is my absolute favorite and has more “oomph” than this version IMHO. I asked Donnie once why the song was truncated there and he said something to the Colonel didn’t want them to “steal the show” or take too much attention off of Elvis.

  8. natesings says:

    Here it is if anyone wants to hear it:

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