♫ 25 Or 6 To 4 ♫

This song has a strange title, and an equally strange history, but I love, love, love the horns in it.  Released in 1970, this song was written by Robert Lamm, who is a keyboard player and singer for Chicago.  It’s about trying to write a song, with the title referring to the time of day: either 3:35 a.m. (25 to 4) or 3:34 a.m. (26 to 4).  Confused yet?  According to Lamm …

“I was living with a bunch of hippies up above Sunset Strip. One of the advantages of this particular house was that it was in the Hollywood Hills and I could look out over the city late at night. I wanted to try to describe the process of writing the song that I was writing. So, ‘waiting for the break of day, searching for something to say, flashing lights against the sky’ – there was a neon sign across the city. That song came from the fact that it was 25 or 6 to 4 a.m. in the morning when I looked at my watch – I was looking for a line to finish the chorus.

Most songs that were written, especially in the early days, whenever I got them to the band and we started rehearsing them, that’s when the songs took shape – once these guys got hold of them. There was definitely a lot of raw material, I thought it was a song when I wrote the words down, I wrote the changes down and I brought the charts to rehearsal, but it wasn’t really a song until they all played it.”

Chicago was previously known as Chicago Transit Authority, which was the name of their first album. They shortened their name after the actual Chicago transit authority objected, and began releasing albums with their name followed by a roman numeral (Chicago II, Chicago III, Chicago IV, etc.).

Peter Cetera is the lead singer on this version.  After he left the  band in 1985, Chicago recorded an updated version for their album Chicago 18 with Jason Scheff singing lead, but I much prefer the original.

Interestingly, the song was banned in Singapore in 1970 due to “alleged allusions to drugs”; the ban extended to entire albums including the song, such as Chicago 18. 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.

25 or 6 to 4
Chicago

Waiting for the break of day
Searching for something to say
Dancing lights againnst the sky
Giving up I close my eyes
Sitting cross-legged on the floor
25 or 6 to 4

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
25 or 6 to 4

Feeling like I ought to sleep
Spinning room is sinking deep
Searching for something to say
Waiting for the break of day
25 or 6 to 4
25 or 6 to 4

Songwriters: Robert Lamm
25 or 6 to 4 lyrics © Spirit Music Group, BMG Rights Management

♫ If You Leave Me Now ♫

Chicago’s bass player Peter Cetera wrote this and sang lead. Cetera specialized in ballads, adding variety to the band’s sound which featured many more rock-oriented songs.

Released in July 1976, the song topped the US charts on October 23, 1976, and stayed there for two weeks, making it the first number one hit for the group as well as hitting number one on the Easy Listening charts. If You Leave Me Now was also Chicago’s biggest hit internationally, topping the charts in other countries such as the UK, Australia, Ireland, Canada, and Netherlands.

In 2010 Chicago teamed with the American Cancer Society and offered the opportunity to bid on the chance to sing their hit, If You Leave Me Now with them on stage live at their concerts, with proceeds going to the American Cancer Society to fight breast cancer.

Considering their longevity and success, it’s surprising how Chicago has been spurned by both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Grammys. The band’s only Grammy award came for this song, when it won for Best Pop Vocal Performance By a Duo, Group or Chorus.

The song also won the award for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s), which went to James William Guercio and Jimmie Haskell.

If You Leave Me Now
Chicago

If you leave me now, you’ll take away the biggest part of me
No baby please don’t go
If you leave me now, you’ll take away the very heart of me
No baby please don’t go

A love like ours is love that’s hard to find
How could we let it slip away
We’ve come too far to leave it all behind
How could we end it all this way
When tomorrow comes we’ll both regret
Things we said today

‘Cause I need you more than you’ll ever know

Writer/s: PETER CETERA
Publisher: Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group, Spirit Music Group
Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

♫ Hard To Say I’m Sorry ♫

In the mood for some Chicago tonight?  I was, and I was torn between this one, Hard to Say I’m Sorry, and If You Leave Me Now.  I didn’t really find any fascinating facts related to the creation or performing of this song, but I am always amazed when a musician from my youth who I haven’t seen in a while (the singer, not my youth, although I haven’t seen that lately either) shows up looking like an old man/woman.  What happened??? Peter Cetera (below) at a young age, and more recently.  Although he hasn’t aged badly, given that he is 74 years old!

Is it really the same person?

Hard to Say I’m Sorry

Chicago

Everybody needs a little time away
I heard her say, from each other
Even lovers need a holiday
Far away from each other

Hold me now
It’s hard for me to say I’m sorry
I just want you to stay

After all that we’ve been through
I will make it up to you, I promise to
And after all that’s been said and done
You’re just a part of me, I can’t let go

Couldn’t stand to be kept away
Just for the day, from your body
Wouldn’t wanna be swept away
Far away, from the one that I love

Hold me now
It’s hard for me to say I’m sorry
I just want you to know

Hold me now
I really wanna tell you I’m sorry
I could never let you go

After all that we’ve been through
I will make it up to you, I promise to
And after all that’s been said and done
You’re just a part of me, I can’t let go

After all that we’ve been through
I will make it up to you, I promise to

You’re gonna be the lucky one

When we get there, gonna jump in the air
No one’ll see us ’cause there’s nobody there
After all you know, we really don’t care
Hold on, I’m gonna take you there

Written by Peter Cetera and David Foster
Produced by David Foster