Yore Favorites is a new series that focuses on my favorite artists of days gone by. I’ll get all nostalgic and wistful about how much I used to love them and then I’ll evaluate my feelings for them now.
4Him were a Contemporary Christian vocal group consisting of Andy Chrisman, Mark Harris, Marty Magehee, and Kirk Sullivan. They were active from 1990-2006, releasing 12 albums and churning out a measely 27 number 1 CCM hits. I mean, only 27? Couldn’t make it 30, ya bunch of slackers? They had one gold album, and if streaming had been a thing when they were in their prime, they probably would’ve had a bunch of gold singles, as well. Basically, they were the best at what they did.
4Him was probably my first favorite band. I absolutely wore out my copy of The Message on cassette. I sang “The Basics of Life”, “For Future Generations, “The Great Awakening”, and “Strange Way To Save The World” at church. My first of many road trip concerts was to see them open for Carman at King’s Island Theme Park in Cincinnati, OH. I have distinct memories of listening to them while crushing on my first girlfriend. Needless to say, my history with their music is long and memorable.
I don’t remember for sure the first time I heard a 4Him song, but I think it may have been in 1994 when I was in 6th grade and the youth group performed “For Future Generations” on the church’s “teen night”. I didn’t know who 4Him was at the time, but I remember seeing the CD cover booklet at the rehearsal and thinking it must be pretty edgy, since it has a roller coaster on the cover. At the time Contemporary Christian Music was practically considered to be evil by my church. Only hymns and southern gospel were permitted…cause I think it says something about that in The Bible somewhere (sarcasm, obviously, I hope.) 4Him must have managed to sneak by the music police with their four-part harmonies that aren’t all that far removed from the southern gospel everyone in the church listened to. It’s possible that 4Him is the gateway band that eventually lead to the acceptance in that church of CCM and contemporary praise music.
I still remember purchasing The Message on cassette at Best Buy. I’m going to assume this was 1996 since that’s when the album came out. It’s possible that it was the first album I purchased with my own money, but I can’t verify that, either. What I can verify is that the cassette spent a very long time in my mom’s car stereo. She became a fan because of that album as well, and she would go with me to watch 4Him in concert (Thanks Mom). Her favorite song was “Center of The Mark” and I’m sure we made the song even better when we would harmonize along with the recording. The Message is still my favorite 4Him album to this day and I don’t foresee there ever being a time that I don’t have a copy in my house for easy access (Yes, I still like physical copies. The internet might implode one day. Who knows?)
So, 20 plus years since my initial fascination with the group, and how do I feel about the music now? I still absolutely love most of it. I recently went on a 4Him binge listening session, which I actually do quite often, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Sure, there’s a few songs that probably sounded decent upon release that don’t hold up so well, but I’d say 90% of the songs are still enjoyable to me now for the same reasons they were back in the day. If someone listens to 4Him for the first time in 2017 and didn’t grow up on 90s adult contemporary then they may think it a bit dated, but everything old sounds dated in some degree, especially if one hears it for the first time 20 years later. To the new listener: it’s all about the harmonies, melodies, and mullets…well, maybe not so much the mullets, but the other two for sure. Look past all the trends of the time and you’ll surely find one of the finest vocal groups to ever do it.
I’ll leave you with a couple of my favorite 4Him jams: