25 Or 6 To 4 – Chicago | Top 40 Chart Performance, Story and Song Meaning

Chart Performance: Pop (#4); 1970

Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne

On February 15, 1967, six musicians met in Chicago with a unique idea for a rock band with an integrated horn section. Calling themselves The Big Thing, the group was later renamed Chicago Transit Authority by an early supporter, Columbia Records staff producer James Guercio. After relocating the band to L.A., Guercio arranged for two showcases, both of which received a negative reaction from the label. Columbia’s President Clive Davis then stepped in with an offer, and CTA released its first album in 1969. Chicago II (the group’s name now shortened after a threatened law suit from the Windy City’s Mayor Daley) followed in less than a year. The leadoff single, 25 or 6 To 4, with Robert Lamm’s “cryptic” lyrics about his struggle to write a song and the time of day, slipped into the #4 slot in late summer, 1970 – their second of 20 Top 10 hits.

This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2023 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.

Produced by:

  • James William Guercio

Lyrics Written by:

  • Robert Lamm


  • Won American Video Award for Best Performance by a Group in 1986
  • Won American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock Band/Duo/Group in 1986
  • Won Best of Fest Audience Choice Award at the 2016 Evening With A Legend festival