Chicago Coined "25 or 6 to 4" in a Song, People Still Wonder What It Means

Alex West - Author

Jan. 24 2024, Updated 10:54 p.m. ET

Members of Chicago pose with awards
Source: Instagram/@chicagotheband

In 1970, Chicago released "25 or 6 to 4" which would become an instant success. The song, which was written by Robert Lamm, debuted during the band's rehearsal at Whiskey a Go Go. Chicago has left it's mark on the music industry.

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The song's release caused fans to instantly wonder what the title could mean. Speculation grew and even to this day fans are often left wondering what the popular song even means.

Chicago band poses together in barren room
Source: Instagram/@chicagotheband
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What does "25 or 6 to 4" mean?

The song title is unique and makes way more sense when you understand what the song is about. Robert wrote the song about attempting to write a song in the middle of the night.

"25 or 6 to 4" acts as the backdrop for the song, specifying the time as 25 or 26 minutes before 4 a.m. This is better understood by the opening line: “Waiting for the break of day."

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Robert goes on to describe a sunrise, but he's likely high on psychedelics. He sings: "Dancing lights against the sky / Giving up I close my eyes / Sitting cross-legged on the floor."

"Feeling like I ought to sleep / Spinning room is sinking deep," he continues describing the way the night goes. "Searching for something to say / Waiting for the break of day."

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What happened to Chicago?

The band Chicago has been through a few name changes over the years, starting with The Big Thing and changing to The Chicago Transit Authority. They later shortened their name to just Chicago.

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Fans will be thrilled to know that the band is still, technically, active. The band hasn't only seen changes in its name over the years, but also in its line up.

There are 18 musicians considered "past members" and 10 who are actively a part of the band. Robert Lamm, Lee Loughnane, and James Pankow are the only remaining original members.

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When founding member Terry Kath died in 1978, the band had trouble finding a stable rhythm guitarist to take his place, so there was a rotating roster attempting to take over.

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Peter Cetera left the band in 1985 and was replaced by Jason Scheff who is no longer in the band. Similarly, Danny Seraphine left the band in 1990, but his replacement did last.

Sadly, Walter Parazaider retired from the band in 2017. In 2021, the world found out that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Despite the massive shifts that the band saw, they persevered.

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As it turns out, the band, albeit not quite the original lineup, is still touring. In 2021, while on tour, the Who keyboardist Loren Gold even stepped up to help out when Lou Pardini had to bow out for a while.

The band then went on a co-headliner with Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. They're even pouring out new music with their latest album having dropped in summer of 2022. They'll be touring again in 2024.

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