"25 or 6 to 4" as written by and Robert Lamm....
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
Twenty five or six to four

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
Twenty five or six to four

Feeling like I ought to sleep
Spinning room is sinking deep
Searching for something to say
Waiting for the break of day
Twenty five or six to four
Twenty five or six to four


Lyrics submitted by Demau Senae

"25 or 6 to 4" as written by Robert Lamm

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Lyrics powered by LyricFind


25 or 6 to 4 song meanings
Add your thoughts

87 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +1
    General CommentIn doing further research, I found that the author of the song says the title IS in reference to the time of day...25 or (2)6 minutes until 4 A.M. I believe the author.
    mfryon June 22, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentClearly anyone who says this song is NOT about drugs has never dropped acid. EVERY single line could be a reference.

    I'm far too young to have much to do with the 60s/70s , but as soon as I heard it I knew what they were singing about. Even the music itself is pretty trippy.

    I know that not all songs from that time were about drugs, but this one obviously is. And if somehow I'm wrong, then they accidently wrote the most perfect acid trip song.
    what_is_thaton November 03, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song's creator has gone on record to say it's about writing a song, an apparently fatal blow to the 'it's-about-drugs theory'. And I suppose that if its creator says it's about writing a song, then _by definition_ that's what it's about. But then the real question is, what was he really thinking about when he wrote it? Was he actually thinking abut the process of writing a song?

    I remain unconvinced. I think that's just a politically correct smokescreen the group felt obliged to put up for their largely AM-radio listening audience. Their other songs are all pretty square, after all (though good, though good...). No, nothing about the 'song-about-writing-a-song' claim makes any sense whatsoever.

    Where do I start? The title. '25 or 6 to 4'. Supposedly a time of day, ie--"twenty-five or [twenty]-six minutes to four [o'clock]. But who talks like that? Who says "It's 26 to 4." And even if such a phrase were used, it would be the other way round--"It's 26 or -5 to 4". You start with the earlier time. You say 'that must've happened around 3 or 4 o'clock", not "around 4 or 3 o'clock". OK, granted, it's a song. Poetic license. But then, who writes a song about writing a song in the first place? Songs aren't written about inconsequential things. No-one writes a song about filing their nails, filing their taxes, or waiting on line at the bank. You write songs about powerful emotions. Stuff that people really care about. [Footnote--Yes, many rock songs are 'self referential'--they're about some aspect of rock itself, or the rock and roll lifestyle, granted. But in those songs, the meaning of the lyrics is clear, as is the emotional content the song is meant to convey.]

    And if 25 or 6 to 4 is about writing a song, why all the secrecy? Why so cryptic? Why the need to hide? Why not just start out with a line like, "Yeah, I was tryin' to write a song jus' the other day....". Ridiculous you say? Look at Chicago's other lyrics, they're all pretty clear and straightforward. No, to get a sense of what the song's really about, listen to your inner voice. Take a close look at the emotional content of the piece. Listen to the music itself, not the lyrics. Listen to that bass line. That is not a bass line about the minor irritations and frustrations of pulling an all-nighter to do creative work. No, that bass line is life-or-death. That is raw emotion, raw power. It's clawing, desperate, holding on for dear life itself. We're talking bad acid trip here. If the song actually were about writing a song, the lyrics wouldn't properly match the music. That would be unprofessional--strictly amateur night, and Chicago are pros, they wouldn't make a blunder like that. Before the song made it to vinyl, they (or their producer) would have said, "I love that bass line, but we gotta change these wimpy lyrics about writing a song. They just don't match the primal screaming of the bass line. We need something more raw, more life-and-death."

    So, OK, let's look at the lyrics, then. There's nothing in there that doesn't suggest a trip, possibly a bad trip pulled over the course of a night. Sitting cross-legged on the floor... flashing lights... spinning room.... getting up to splash my face.... should I try to do some more.... Now don't get me wrong, I well understand the objection of those who say "You guys think every song is about drugs." After all, there are several songs with lyrics that are all over the place. And people are quick to infer drugs as a theme. It's all too easy. Bruce Springsteen's Blinded by the Light comes to mind, or Neil Young's After The Gold Rush. But this song is not like that. The lyrics are all very clear and very focused. They don't ramble all over the place. There's no wild imagery with unclear meanings.

    Not convinced? Put yourself in the position of the writer. Imagine you were setting out to write a song about an acid trip. But you couldn't just come right out and say 'acid trip'. You had to be a bit coy about it, a bit cryptic about it. Our culture tends to frown on drug use. And anyway, it's cooler and hipper and more fun if it's a bit cryptic and hidden. In what way would the song you come up with NOT resemble 25 or 6 to 4?

    Well, those are all the arguments in favor of the 'song-about-drugs theory'. What of the other side? One point you could make is, "Where's the phantasmagoric imagery if it's about an acid trip?" Something like the Beatles's 'girl with kaleidoscope eyes', for example. I think the point was to be as discreet as possible, shroud the song in a bit of mystery, for the reasons mentioned. The only other tiny quibble might be, "Why not 25 _and_ 6 to 4 instead of 'or', if '6 to 4' is really the length of the trip? I think when weighed against the overwhelming evidence for the other side, that's a minuscule point, but OK, I'll admit a 3% possibility that I could be wrong.

    If this were a civil court case, I'd find an overwhelming preponderance of evidence in favor of the defendant. It's about drugs.

    Case dismissed.
    aboylegolcomon March 23, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe first time I read the lyrics of the song I thought it had to do with the time and writing. I also suspected it may have been influenced by drugs. Often writers are in altered states while writing. Why couldn't Lamm be telling the truth about the song and STILL have been on something. Despite Skaball's assertion that "Chicago as a whole was anti-drugs," Lamm, in the same original interview where he described the song's meaning/origin, was also quite candid about the bands history of drug usage. So, yeah, they were high. A lot. Thus, it may be safe to assume that as he did drugs and wrote music, he may (and almost certainly did) combine the two activities. Why wouldn't this have been one of those times. It seemed obvious to me decades before I heard the interview, the first time I hard the song and read the lyrics. (I won't comment on my state of mind at the time, though ;) )
    SocietysPlierson December 17, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIt simply amazes me that you wanna-be drug heads (and prob had a few too many) still wanna link certain songs with drugs when it is obvious that they are not. Does it bother you that much that a song can just be simple and be about what it clearly says in the lyrics without having deep , underlying drug references? Well when you get your band together, you can spend all your time being a lyrical drug referencing ninja. lol good luck with that
    Petmonkeyon January 21, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI could be wrong, but I think I read somewhere that the song was about the band being pressured by the record company to get an album out, the lyrics are about staying up all night trying to come up with new songs.
    Hildeon May 04, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe clock thing sounds pretty good, but wouldn't that be 24 or 6'til 4...or maybe 25 or 5 'til 4? Either way, the title says to 4, not 'til 4, right?
    mfryon June 22, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIf it is the upside down clock that's amazingly creative...even if not I still love the song. We got to play a version in jazz and it was the best thing we've ever played.
    thinkitbeiton July 23, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentmfry is right, the song title means Twenty-five or Twenty-six to Four-O-Clock. Hilde is also correct that the song is about writing a song. He is up late writing and doesn't know if he should keep going or not. Another interesting (though untrue) theory about the title is that is a mathematical ratio for cutting cocaine.
    Strutnut23on September 01, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWell, i heard that it meant to get into chicago there was Rt. 25 to get there or you can take rt 6 then onto rt 4
    Bluron September 03, 2002   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain