The sun is shining today for the first time in about a month, and it’s been a while since we’ve visited a “guilty pleasure.” So it seemed like it might be a good time for this one.

In the collective minds of the music public the band Chicago has suffered the most extreme reputational pratfall in rock history, owing to its tawdry surrender to schlocky dentist office balladeering in the early ‘80’s as produced by pop kitsch-meister David Foster, and thus seemingly erasing from memory the quasi-revolutionary fusion of Terry Kath-led¹ progressive jazz-rock that marked their early career, and the shrewd songwriting, astounding instrumentation and complex arrangements enlivening so many ambitious, era-defining numbers.

Dare I say, however, this is not one of those songs.

Off the 1970 album Chicago II, the first to establish the band’s abbreviated name from its debut as Chicago Transit Authority and containing the massive hits ‘Make Me Smile’ and ’25 or 6 to 4’ (as well as the best Bar Mitzvah slow dance of all time, ‘Colour My World’), came the demonstrably less grandiose ditty, ‘Wake Up Sunshine.’ It’s a somewhat cloying, mid-tempo jingle, perhaps an unwitting precursor for some of the inglorious cheesiness to follow, and due to its failure to be included in Chicago IX: Chicago’s Greatest Hits, their ubiquitous early-career anthology, this is an otherwise pretty forgettable trifle.

Except for three enduring repeated vocal lines.

Keyboardist Robert Lamm carries the tune’s lead vocals, but three times the accompaniment all drops out and bassist Peter Cetera – who somehow escaped acquiring the nickname “et” – chimes in with the mood-jarring, octave-leaping, song-saving, plaintive cry:

Can’t have you hidin’!

The first appears at just 25 seconds, then again at :52, and finally, with a little extra juice, once more at 1:49. There’s just something about Cetera’s wailing voice – amazingly, the same one that later would bring such revulsion on saccharine goop like ‘If You Leave Me Now,’ ‘You’re the Inspiration’ and ‘Hard to Say I’m Sorry’ – suddenly entering with such a zealous, high-end jolt. I picture his face bursting out from behind a curtain, a figurative That’s All Folks! for an otherwise not-too-loony tune, to deliver that curiously incongruous flare of energy, ambushing disinterested listeners readying to tune out.

Can’t have you hidin’!

Is it sung to a girl? (probably). To the literal sun? (perhaps metaphorically). Maybe it was instead a coded message: to foreshadow and welcome the barrage of putrid songs that were still to come? (very possible); or, to smug highbrow listeners (like me) compelling them to admit to the guilty pleasure of actually liking this song? (yeah, definitely thinking that one).

Well, conceal yourselves no more, sheepish fans of ‘Wake Up Sunshine,’ you know that we…

Can’t have you hidin’!

¹Many will recall that none other than Jimi Hendrix famously referred to Kath as better than him and “the best guitarist in the universe”