Chicago – 25 or 6 to 4

Chicago – 25 or 6 to 4

‘25 or 6 to 4’ is a song written by American musician Robert Lamm, one of the founding members of the band Chicago. It was recorded in 1969 for their second album, Chicago, with Peter Cetera on lead vocals.

The album was released in January 1970 and the song was edited and released as a single in June (omitting the second verse and most of the guitar solo), climbing to number 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and number 7 on the UK Singles Chart. It was the band's first song to reach the top five in the US. It has been included in numerous Chicago compilation albums. In 2015, Dave Swanson, writing for Ultimate Classic Rock, listed the song as number one on his top ten list of Chicago songs. Classic Rock Review says the song is "one of the most indelible Chicago tunes". In 2019, Bobby Olivier and Andrew Unterberger, music critics for Billboard magazine, ranked the song number one on their list of "The 50 Best Chicago Songs". Guitar World rated ‘25 or 6 to 4’ no. 22 for "greatest wah solos of all time."

This was written by Robert Lamm, who is a keyboard player and singer for Chicago. It's about trying to write a song, with the title referring to the time of day: either 3:35 a.m. (25 to 4) or 3:34 a.m. (26 to 4). Lamm explained on The Chris Isaak Hour: "I was living with a bunch of hippies up above Sunset

Strip. One of the advantages of this particular house was that it was in the Hollywood Hills and I could look out over the city late at night. I wanted to try to describe the process of writing the song that I was writing. So, 'waiting for the break of day, searching for something to say, flashing lights against the sky' - there was a neon sign across the city. That song came from the fact that it was 25 or 6 to 4 a.m. in the morning when I looked at my watch - I was looking for a line to finish the chorus.

‘25 or 6 to 4’ opens with the line, “Waiting for the break of day” followed by a verse that one can only assume is about staying up all night on psychedelics. “Dancing lights against the sky / Giving up I close my eyes / Sitting cross-legged on the floor,” Lamm sings. This is followed by the numbers in the title, ‘25 or 6 to 4’, which Lamm explained to Straight Dope in 2000 is a simply a reference to the time of day, as in “25 or 26 minutes until 4am”. This lends further to the theory about the song’s meaning having to do with psychedelics, as they are known to keep you up all night.

Chicago Band

In a 2013 interview, Robert Lamm said he composed ‘25 or 6 to 4’ on a twelve-string guitar with only ten strings — it was missing the two low E strings — and that he wrote the lyrics in one day. The band first rehearsed the song at the Whisky a Go Go.

Label – Columbia
Songwriter – Robert Lamm
Producer – James William Guercio

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[Verse 1: Peter Cetera]
Waiting for the break of day
Searching for something to say
Flashing lights against the sky
Giving up, I close my eyes
[Chorus: All]
Sitting cross-legged on the floor
Twenty-five or six to four
[Verse 2: Peter Cetera]
Staring blindly into space
Getting up to splash my face
Wanting just to stay awake
Wondering how much I can take
[Chorus: All, Peter Cetera]
Should I try to do some more?
Twenty-five or six to four
Oh yeah
[Verse 3: Peter Cetera]
Feeling like I ought to sleep
Spinning room is sinking deep
Searching for something to say
Waiting for the break of day
[Chorus: All]
Twenty-five or six to four
Twenty-five or six to four
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