25 or 6 to 4

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"25 or 6 to 4"
25 or 6 to 4.jpg
Single by Chicago
from the album Chicago
B-side "Where Do We Go from Here"
Released June 1970
Format 7"
Recorded August 1969
Genre Hard rock, jazz rock
Length 4:50 (Album version)
2:53 (Single version)
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Robert Lamm
Producer(s) James William Guercio
Chicago singles chronology
"Make Me Smile/Colour My World"
"25 or 6 to 4"
"Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?"

"Along Comes a Woman"

"25 or 6 to 4/One More Day"

"Will You Still Love Me?"
Music sample

"25 or 6 to 4", also written as "Twenty-Five or Six to Four", is a song written by the American musician Robert Lamm, one of the founding members of the rock/jazz fusion band Chicago. It was recorded for their second album, Chicago, in 1970, with Peter Cetera on lead vocals. The song was edited and released as a single in June that year, climbing to number 4 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart[1] and number seven on the UK Singles Chart. This recording features an electric guitar solo using a wah-wah pedal by Chicago guitarist Terry Kath, and has been included in numerous Chicago compilation albums.

An updated version of "25 or 6 to 4" was recorded for the 1986 album Chicago 18 with James Pankow listed as co-writer. With the new band member Jason Scheff on lead vocals, the single reached number 48 on the U.S. chart. This version was also used as the B-side for the band's next single in 1986, "Will You Still Love Me?".


The song is about trying to write a song in the middle of the night. The title refers to the time of day in which the song is set: 25 or 26 minutes before 4 AM. The song's writer, Robert Lamm, was trying to write a song at that time one night, in a room above the Whisky a Go Go, deciding to write a song about his own struggle to do so. (He had recently written and sung "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?", another Chicago hit.) Because of the unique phrasing of the song's title, "25 or 6 to 4" has been incorrectly speculated to be a veiled reference to drug quantities, or a mystical allusion.[2][3]

Chart performance[edit]

Covers and parodies[edit]

The song has been covered by various artists, including Straitjacket Local H, Intruder, Bruce Foxton, The Moog Cookbook, Earth, Wind & Fire, Paul Gilbert, Pacifika, Vince Neil Umphrey's McGee and Nick Ingman. Constantine Maroulis released his version of the song as a single in 2011.[9]

For the results night performance of the finale of the ninth season of American Idol, Lee DeWyze performed "25 or 6 to 4" with Chicago.

In 2005, Jonathan Coulton made "When I'm 25 or 64", a mashup of "25 or 6 to 4" with "When I'm Sixty-Four" by The Beatles.[10]

Soundtrack appearances[edit]

The song appears as an on-disc track in the video game Rock Band 3 and has been made available as a download for the game/learning software Rocksmith 2014.



  1. ^ "Chicago Awards". Allmusic. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  2. ^ "What does the Chicago lyric "25 or 6 to 4" mean?". The Straight Dope. October 18, 2000. Retrieved October 20, 2015. 
  3. ^ History of Chicago (television documentary). CNN. Retrieved December 30, 2016. '25 or 6 to 4' indicates the time in the morning, 25 minutes to 4 a.m. 
  4. ^ a b Steffen Hung. "Forum - 1970 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Australian-charts.com. Retrieved 2016-10-03. 
  5. ^ "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2015-05-28. 
  6. ^ "CHICAGO | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com. Retrieved 2016-10-03. 
  7. ^ "Top 100 1970 – UK Music Charts". Uk-charts.top-source.info. Retrieved 2015-05-28. 
  8. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1970/Top 100 Songs of 1970". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 2015-05-28. 
  9. ^ Chicago Admin. "Constantine Maroulis releases his version of Chicago classic: 25 Or 6 To 4". Chicago The Band Music Community. Archived from the original on April 22, 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-13. 
  10. ^ "Jonathan Coulton". Jonathan Coulton. 2005-11-18. Retrieved 2016-10-03.