Nat Townsley Jr. and the Lighthouse Ensemble: Sunshine of My Shoulders
Nat Townsley Jr. and the Lighthouse Ensemble: I Know Love
From I Fell In Love With God (Peacock, 1975)

Asked…and ye shall receive.

By popular demand, people wanted to hear the full version of Nat Townsley Jr. and the Lighthouse Ensemble’s “Sunshine On My Shoulder” – perhaps one of the last songs you’d ever predict would get a gospel makeover but Townsley Jr. and crew do a marvelous job with drenching this song in suitably sunny joy and verve. This is what I love about gospel soul…despite being a devout agnostic (if not reluctant atheist), I appreciate how gospel aims for the transcendent and ecstatic. After all, if you’re trying to commune with God through music, ain’t no half steppin’!

That’s not to say every gospel soul song works aesthetically but they do tend to aspire towards the big and bold and you can certainly say that about both “Sunshine on My Shoulder,” as well as “I Know Love” which is on the B-side of the same album. I can’t say I enjoy the entirety of its 6+ minutes but there’s that long passage that begins around 2:30 that is this high point you want to stay inside as long as possible.

(Btw, for people who care about this sort of thing – this album had two pressings. The original features a picture of the group standing around. The second pressing, which I see more often, has a green cover with a picture of only Townsley on there. Same tracklisting, just a later pressing. Geeks take note).