Friday, November 3, 2017

Chicago – "25 or 6 to 4" (1970)

Searching for something to say
Waiting for the break of day
25 or 6 to 4

I don't live that far from West Virginia, but I don't know the state well – much of it is terra incognita as far as I am concerned.

From what I can tell, I have a fair amount in common with West Virginians when it comes to politics.  Here's a urinal I patronized last week while I was on my way to try out my new hybrid bike on a couple of West Virginia rail trails:

Here's a close-up of the drawing that's inside the red circle:

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I rode more than 20 miles on both the Allegheny Highlands Trail and the Greenbrier River Trail, and saw exactly ZERO other bikers.  

I don’t get it.  The weather couldn’t have been more perfect, and the scenery was gorgeous.  Where were all the other bikers?

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My destination on day one of my trip was Parsons, West Virginia, the county seat of Tucker County.

Parsons has fewer than 1500 residents but is much larger than any other town in Tucker County, which is home to just over 7000 souls.  (That makes it the second-least populous county in West Virginia.)

The trip to Parsons was much easier than I had anticipated.  Much of the drive was along US 48, which turned out to be an almost-new divided highway.  I was able to zip along at 65 miles per hour while enjoying the fall foliage and mountain views.

After parking in Parsons, I rode south and then west on the Allegheny Highlands Trail, which follows the route of a railroad that was built in 1884 and abandoned about 100 years later.

The first few miles of the trail are paved.  Once you get past Corricks Ford Battlefield Park (the site of a July 1861 Civil War battle) and a large Kingsford charcoal plant, the asphalt ends and you’re riding on dirt.

A country church near Parsons, WV
Unfortunately, highway construction has turned about a mile of the trail into a wet, sloppy mess. 

The trail was blocked at one point by a welder working on some road-building equipment:

Move out the way!
Would this guy have set up his welding gear in the middle of a street?  I don’t think so.  So why does he think it’s OK to block traffic on my trail?

About seven miles out of Parsons, I turned around and rode back into town, passing the Dugout Diner on the way:

I continued heading east a few miles past my starting point to Hendricks, where the Allegheny Highlands Trail ends.

According to my trusty odometer, I had ridden just over 21 miles:

Telephone and internet service were almost nonexistent in Parsons.  I parked between the courthouse and a McDonald’s and found enough of a Wifi signal to plot my route to Elkins, which was about half an hour’s drive to the southwest.

Elkins, a lively burg of some 7000 residents, is home to Davis and Elkins College and – more importantly – Big Timber Brewing.

I settled in at the bar for a pint of “Forestfest” – an Oktoberfest beer:

My ultimate destination that night was Marlinton, which was 60-odd miles further south.  That meant an hour-and-a-half’s drive on twisty, up-and-down U.S. 219.

I have a feeling that drive – which goes past the 11,000-acre Snowshoe Mountain ski resort – would have been quite beautiful if it hadn’t been dark.

I made my way into Marlinton – the county seat of Pocahantas County, which is even smaller than Parsons – at about 10 pm and located Appalachian Sport, a store that caters to hunters, fishermen, kayakers, and bikers, and which is located only a hop, skip, and a jump from the 78-mile-long Greenbrier River Trail  

Above the store are two rental units, one of which would be my home away from home for the evening:

My accommodations were plain but clean and comfortable – and a night’s lodging cost me only $44.95.

I hit the hay at about midnight, with visions of riding my bike along the Greenbrier River dancing in my head.

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“25 or 6 to 4” has been a favorite of mine since it was released by Chicago on their second album in 1970 – the year I graduated from high school.  I’m featuring it today because it was one of the songs I loaded on to my iPod before heading to West Virginia for the bike ride described above.

According to Robert Lamm, who wrote the song, “25 or 6 to 4” is about trying to write a song in the middle of the night – not about an LSD trip.  

The title refers to the fact that the time is 25 or 26 minutes before 4 am – that is, 3:35 or 3:36 am.  It’s verbal shorthand to express “25 or 26” as “25 or 6.”

Click here if you don’t believe me.

It’s easy to understand why “25 or 6 to 4” is the last song that Chicago plays at its concerts: it’s a stick of dynamite.

Here’s “25 or 6 to 4”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

1 comment:

  1. I used to listen to this when I was up in the middle of the night trying to write some paper or another... even in college!