An updated version of “25 or 6 to 4” was recorded for the 1986 album Chicago 18 with James Pankow listed as co-writer. Featuring 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 1988 single “What Kind Of Man Would I Be?”.
Chicago fans have long argued about the meaning of the song. When it was released, there was speculation that the lyrics were drug-related; but the same thing was said about many songs in the late 1960s and early 1970s and the rumor has been largely dismissed. Lamm himself says that the title is “just a reference to the time of day,” and that “the song is about writing a song. It’s not mystical.” The time of day in reference is 3:35 AM (or 3:34 AM), which would then be 25 (or 26) minutes to 4 AM. Lamm was not above perpetuating the mythology of the song, though. In one interview, he referred to the song title as “a cricket score.” However, in Cockney rhyming slang, “6 to 4,” which rhymes with “whore,” is used to refer to a prostitute, allowing for the possibility that the title alludes to something more than he has stated. Most likely, the song is simply about the songwriter experiencing writer’s block during a bout of insomnia, on a sleepless night, with the time of night being either 3:35AM (25 to 4:00) or, perhaps, only 3:34AM (26 to 4:00).
This song has been covered by multiple artists, including Vince Neil, fellow heavy rockers, Thunderhead, featuring singer, Ted Bullet, Straitjacket, Local H, Intruder, Bruce Foxton (solo, ex The Jam), The Moog Cookbook and Earth, Wind, and Fire.
In 1994, the popular alternative band, Green Day, produced a single Brain Stew, which was partially inspired by 25 or 6 to 4.
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.
In 2009 San Francisco Bay Area Classic Rock group Rock Solid introduces “Hornless Chicago” with their version of 25 or 6 to 4 playing the song without a horn section.
Edited by Timitzi on 15 Nov 2009, 15:00
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