25 or 6 to 4
|"25 or 6 to 4"|
|Single by Chicago|
|from the album Chicago|
|B-side||"Where Do We Go from Here"|
|Genre||Hard rock, jazz rock|
|Length||4:50 (Album version)
2:53 (Single version)
|Producer(s)||James William Guercio|
|Chicago singles chronology|
"25 or 6 to 4" 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 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 of that same year, climbing to number four on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and number seven on the UK Singles Chart. It was the band's first song to reach the top five in the U.S. 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 song's title is the time at which the song is set: 25 or 26 minutes before 4 AM. 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. The 1986 music video for the song references the correct meaning at its beginning. The song was banned in Singapore in 1970 and again in 1986 because of its "alleged allusions to drugs." In 1993, the ban on this song was lifted, along with long-time bans on songs by other artists such as the Beatles, Bob Dylan and Creedence Clearwater Revival.
In what may be a coincidence, the song's writer, Robert Lamm, had recently written and sung another Chicago hit, "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?", for which this song's title can be seen to serve as an answer.
Weekly singles charts
Covers and parodies
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.
- Peter Cetera – lead vocals, bass
- Terry Kath – backing vocals, fuzzed wah-wah electric guitar (plus solo), unamplified electric guitar
- Robert Lamm – backing vocals, piano
- Danny Seraphine – double-tracked drums
- Jimmy Pankow – trombone
- Lee Loughnane – trumpet
- Walt Parazaider – tenor saxophone
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- Lamm, Robert (2009-06-15). "Chicago Comes to Agganis". BU Today (Interview). Interview with Devon Maloney. Boston University. Retrieved 2017-02-13.
It's a reference to time. It's a song about writing the song, and I looked at my watch while I was writing and it was 25 minutes to four in the morning, or maybe 26.
- 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.
- "What does the Chicago lyric "25 or 6 to 4" mean?". The Straight Dope. October 18, 2000. Retrieved October 20, 2015.
- Leo, Christie (1986-12-27). "Singapore Bans Fogerty LP". Billboard. 98 (52). p. 87. Retrieved 2017-02-17.
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- Chicago-Admin. "Constantine Maroulis releases his version of Chicago classic: 25 Or 6 To 4". Chicago – The Band. Archived from the original on April 22, 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-13.
- Coulton, Jonathan (2005-11-18). "When I'm 25 or 64". Retrieved 2016-10-03.