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25 or 6 to 4

English translation: 3:35 or 3:34 (am)

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GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
English term or phrase:25 or 6 to 4
English translation:3:35 or 3:34 (am)
Entered by: Can Altinbay
Options:
- Contribute to this entry
- Include in personal glossary

21:40 Jun 19, 2005
English to English translations [PRO]
Music / US song lyrics
English term or phrase: 25 or 6 to 4
Good evening
This question is not related to any translation work and I hope no one will waste any time with it.
An Italian friend told me that he had been trying, periodically and over many years, to discover the meaning of this line from a song with the same title by US R&B greats Chicago (From the 1970 Album "Chicago II - lyrics below).
I have no idea and my friend has been unable to find any explanation on the web. Is it US-specific? Can anyone shed any light? fo
TIA
Respect
Derek

25 or 6 to 4
Waiting for the break of day
Searching for something to say
Flashing lights against 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 I try 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
Derek Smith
Local time: 10:26
3:35 or 3:34
Explanation:
The official explanation from Chicago has been that the song was written arounf 3:30 in the morning and "25 or 6 to 4" refers to "25 or 26 minutes to 4", hence my answer. Everything had to be translated into drug terms for songs of that period. Next they'll tell me that "Puff the Magic Dragon" is about marijuana cigarettes.

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Note added at 10 mins (2005-06-19 21:51:10 GMT)
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Look up \"25 or 6 to 4\" on Google for several other sites that tell you the same.
Selected response from:

Can Altinbay
Local time: 04:26
Grading comment
Thanks indeed to you all for your collective input here. I'm afraid I rather took my friend's word for the fact that he had searched for this information to no avail when I posted the question. He's not a translator so I guess he's not as good at trawling for information as we have to be in our line of work. This said, the discussion has been most interesting, and, as George suggests, I suppose we can never be totally sure - even though the author himself has clarified his meaning. I guess it depends on the way we prefer to understand things.
Hard to grade a single good answer because all were excellent. I am sending virtual gradewaves through the ether.
Much respect
Derek
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
5 +33:35 or 3:34
Can Altinbay
3 +325 or 26 minutes til 4 o'clock".
George Rabel
4 +1explanationRHELLER
3 +2time
Cilian O'Tuama
2 +3please see explanation below
Christian
23:35 or 3:54
Agnieszka Hayward


  

Answers


4 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 2/5Answerer confidence 2/5 peer agreement (net): +3
please see explanation below


Explanation:
Just found this:
"Reference your question, the Chicago song is a description of an ACID trip. The "manic" and confused music style here actually is a reasonable approximation of the experience! The "25 or 6 to 4" line is actually "25 or 624", referring to two types of LSD available at the time, based on their chemical composition. They were LSD-25 and LSD-624. I was there; good thing my kids don't ask me about those days......"
http://www.hypernews.org/HyperNews/get/entertainments/music/...

Christian
Local time: 10:26
Native speaker of: Native in GermanGerman

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Dina Abdo: Sounds like it :)
2 hrs

agree  Saiwai Translation Services
3 hrs

agree  zaphod: Bought the T-shirt
8 hrs
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6 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +2
time


Explanation:
25 or 26 minutes before 4 o'clock in the morning (waiting for the break of day)

what it sounds like to me

Cilian O'Tuama
Local time: 10:26
Works in field
Native speaker of: English
PRO pts in category: 4

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Kim Metzger
42 mins

agree  RHELLER: yes
4 hrs
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

9 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +3
3:35 or 3:34


Explanation:
The official explanation from Chicago has been that the song was written arounf 3:30 in the morning and "25 or 6 to 4" refers to "25 or 26 minutes to 4", hence my answer. Everything had to be translated into drug terms for songs of that period. Next they'll tell me that "Puff the Magic Dragon" is about marijuana cigarettes.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 10 mins (2005-06-19 21:51:10 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Look up \"25 or 6 to 4\" on Google for several other sites that tell you the same.


    Reference: http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/m25or6to4.html
Can Altinbay
Local time: 04:26
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in JapaneseJapanese
PRO pts in category: 4
Grading comment
Thanks indeed to you all for your collective input here. I'm afraid I rather took my friend's word for the fact that he had searched for this information to no avail when I posted the question. He's not a translator so I guess he's not as good at trawling for information as we have to be in our line of work. This said, the discussion has been most interesting, and, as George suggests, I suppose we can never be totally sure - even though the author himself has clarified his meaning. I guess it depends on the way we prefer to understand things.
Hard to grade a single good answer because all were excellent. I am sending virtual gradewaves through the ether.
Much respect
Derek

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Nick Lingris: Always a fan of the Straight Dope. I have all of Cecil's books!
5 mins
  -> Thanks.

agree  RHELLER: yes - I posted the whole explanation (sorry I forgot to write "not for grading")---don't tell me you never heard that about puff!
4 hrs
  -> I heard the silly story, and the official explanation straight from Peter Yarrow. Hi, Rita.

agree  jennifer newsome
19 hrs
  -> Thank you.
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5 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +3
25 or 26 minutes til 4 o'clock".


Explanation:
At least that's th explanation given in this site. I cannot vouch for it:
25 or 6 to 4 means "25 or 26 minutes til 4 o'clock". When Chicago looked at the time, it was that time and they used it

http://www.proz.com/kudoz/1066714?bs=1#marker_submit

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Note added at 6 mins (2005-06-19 21:47:15 GMT)
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Oops, wrong URL, here it is:

http://www.hypernews.org/HyperNews/get/entertainments/music/...

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 11 mins (2005-06-19 21:52:13 GMT)
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I don\'t dispute the acid version contributed by Christian, but then again, many times people have taken the wrong meaning out of song lyrics, as in Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, which Lennon insisted had nothing to do with LSD, and was just a drawing made by his son Julian.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 16 mins (2005-06-19 21:56:50 GMT)
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So, seems like your Italian friend will spend another 25 years searching for the true meaning. I had a seven-year dispute with my ex-wife around the words spoken at the end of \"Another Brick in the Wall\".
She insisted that they said: \"If you don\'t eat yout meat, you can\'t have any pudding, how can you have any pudding if you don\'t eat your meat\".
To this day, every time I hear the song, what I hear is: \"If you\'re going to get me, you can\'t have any pudding...etc.\"

George Rabel
Local time: 04:26
Native speaker of: Spanish
PRO pts in category: 4

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Christian: Both versions make perfect sense - the "time" version and the "acid" version. I think we will never find out what's actually meant here, and that's probably what the writer of these lyrics had in mind when he wrote this song. He wants to keep us guessing.
18 mins
  -> yep, the acid version is totally plausible also, since there have been many songs written with undisputed references to drug experiences

agree  Vicky Papaprodromou
10 hrs
  -> Thank you, Vicky

agree  jennifer newsome
19 hrs
  -> thank you, jennifer
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31 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 2/5Answerer confidence 2/5
3:35 or 3:54


Explanation:
that's how I always interpreted this line for myself...
correct me if I'm wrong

regards

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 32 mins (2005-06-19 22:12:51 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

ups, sorry. somehow my comp must be lazy & slow tonight. i didn\'t see any of the above answers when i was entering mine

Agnieszka Hayward
Poland
Local time: 10:26
Native speaker of: Native in PolishPolish
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4 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
explanation


Explanation:
The song "25 or 6 to 4" appeared on "Chicago II" and was written by organist/vocalist Robert Lamm.
Lamm says it's simpler than that.... "The song is about writing a song. It's not mystical," he says. Take a look at some of the lyrics:

Waiting for the break of day--He's been up all night and now it's getting close to sunrise.
Searching for something to say--Trying to think of song lyrics.
Flashing lights against the sky--Perhaps stars or the traditional flashing neon hotel sign.
Giving up I close my eyes--He's exhausted and his eyes hurt from being open too long, so he closes them.
Staring blindly into space--This expression can be seen often on the faces of writers and reporters. Trust me.
Getting up to splash my face--Something you do when you're trying to stay awake, though a good cup of Starbuck's does wonders for Cecil and me.
Wanting just to stay awake, wondering how much I can take--How far can he push himself to get the song done?
Should I try to do some more?--This is the line that makes many think it's a drug song. But it is just as easily construed as a frustrated writer wondering if he should try to do some more lyrics/songwriting.

As for the curious title, Lamm says, "It's just a reference to the time of day"--as in "waiting for the break of day" at 25 or (2)6 minutes to 4 a.m. (3:35 or 3:34 a.m.)


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Note added at 4 hrs 14 mins (2005-06-20 01:54:34 GMT)
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NOT FOR GRADING


    Reference: http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/m25or6to4.html
RHELLER
United States
Local time: 02:26
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 8

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  George Rabel: it makes a lot more sense when examined in the context
9 hrs
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