The Meaning of 25 Or 6 To 4: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the meaning of 25 Or 6 To 4? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the song 25 Or 6 To 4, including its meaning, background, and more!

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What does the song 25 Or 6 To 4 mean?

According to Song Facts, The Straight Dope, and Rapid City Journal, 25 Or 6 To 4 is a song by the rock band Chicago, from their 1970 album Chicago II. The song was written by the keyboard player and singer Robert Lamm, and refers to the time of day, either 25 or 26 minutes until 4:00AM, implying the times 3:35AM and 3:34AM. Lamm explains that he wrote the song when he was living in a house full of hippies on the Sunset Strip in the Hollywood Hills. The song is self-reflexive in that Lamm was attempting to describe his writing process through song. He was waiting for the break of day, and it was around 25 or 26 minutes until 4 in the morning when he was writing the song. 

This song quickly became famous for its showcasing of Chicago’s horn section, played by three of the founding band members Walter Parazaider on saxophone, trumpet player Lee Loughnane, and trombonist James Pankow. Many believed that the time in the song was a nickname for a hard drug like LSD, believing that it was referring to the time it would take for the drug to wear off – approximately 10 hours, from 6PM to 4AM.

Billboard states that the song 25 Or 6 To 4 peaked at #4 on the U.S. chart in 1970, and stayed on the charts for 20 weeks. According to Ubisoft, the song has an iconic main riff – a chord progression – in which there is a repeating descending figure in the key of A Minor. 

The song 25 Or 6 To 4 is usually the last song that Chicago will play in a concert. They would often tour with other high-profile acts and this song was a great showcase for many other bands, such as Earth, Wind & Fire, REO Speedwagon,  and The Doobie Brothers. A selection of lyrics from the song are as follows, form Song Facts:

Waiting for the break of day

Searching for something to say

Dancing lights against the sky

Giving up I close my eyes

Sitting cross-legged on the floor

25 or 6 to 4

Staring blindly into space

Getting up to splash my face

Wanting just to stay awake

Wondering how much I can take

Should have tried to do some more

25 or 6 to 4

Feeling like I ought to sleep

Spinning room is sinking deep

Searching for something to say

Waiting for the break of day

25 or 6 to 4

25 or 6 to 4

Who are the members of the band Chicago? What is their history?

According to Chicago the Band, in the year 1967 a group of Chicago musicians including Peter Cetera, Walter Parazaider, Danny Seraphine, Terry Kath, Lee Loushnane, Robert Lamm, and James Pankow formed a group with the goal to reflect the cultural diversity of Chicago through music. They are a rock and roll band that has sold over 100,000,000 records, including 21 Top 10 singles, 11 Number One singles, 5 consecutive Number One albums, and five Gold singles. 25 of their 34 albums are certified platinum and the band has a combined 47 gold and platinum awards. 

The band was initially named The Big Thing. They spent the majority of the Summer of Love in 1967 playing different cover songs until obtaining a manager. They then changed their name to Chicago Transit Authority, but after objection from the actual Chicago Transit Authority, they shortened their name to simply Chicago. They began releasing all of their albums in numerical order, titled with Roman numerals – i.e. Chicago I, Chicago II, Chicago III, etc. 

The group made it into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in the year 2016. No one’s really sure why, but from inside sources members of the band believe that something at the beginning of their career may have caused a rift with Rolling Stone. 

A list of the band’s members, including their lead guitarist, lead vocals, and others, are listed below alongside the years that they were or are with the band. Four of the band’s members, James Pankow, Walter Parazaider, Lee Loughnane and Robert Lamm, have been with the group for over 50 years. 

  • Laudir De Oliveira – Percussion 1974-1981
  • Jason Sheff – Vocals, bass 1984-2016
  • Peter Cetera – Vocals, bass 1967-1984
  • Lee Loughnane – Trumpet
  • Keith Howland – Guitar 1995-
  • Tris Imboden – Drum 1989-
  • Danny Seraphine – Drums 1967-1989
  • Robert Lamm – Keyboards, vocals
  • Terry Kath – Guitar, vocals 1967-1978
  • Bill Champlin – Keyboards, vocals 1981-2009
  • Donnie Dacus – Guitar – 1978-1980
  • James Pankow – Trombone
  • Walter Parazaider – Horns
  • DeWayne Bailey – Guitar 1988-1995

Overall, the song 25 Or 6 To 4 (sometimes written as Twenty-Five or Six to Four) is a Chicago song written by songwriter Robert Lamm, who was also the keyboardist and singer for the band. While many believe the time in the song title is a reference to LSD 25 Or 6 To 4 is actually a reference to the time of day at which Lamm was writing the song, around 4 o’clock in the morning. This great song is from the band’s second album. Chicago is famous for its rock music, and has many chart-topping classic rock songs. The song 25 Or 6 To 4 features many of the band’s founding members.

Sources:

  1. https://chicagotheband.com/a-chicago-story/
  2. https://rapidcityjournal.com/blackhillstogo/arts-music/on-the-record-chicagos-25-or-6-to-4-about-time-not-drugs/article_2d0daaa4-0013-50ee-868a-fd4002153b8f.html
  3. https://www.songfacts.com/facts/chicago/25-or-6-to-4
  4. https://www.straightdope.com/21342982/what-does-the-chicago-lyric-25-or-6-to-4-mean
  5. https://www.billboard.com/music/chicago/chart-history/hot-100/song/332971
  6. https://rocksmith.ubisoft.com/rocksmith/en-us/news/152-350259-16/in-theory-25-or-6-to-4-by-chicago?fbclid=iwar0z7yfu_syzvd6fsavgsi3akjcwb8rongxk6drhbf3le8exo1ljgdiyxt0