Song of the Day: Carry On Wayward Son by Kansas


Carry On Wayward Son” is a single recorded by Kansas and written by Kerry Livgren for their 1976 album Leftoverture. In 1977, the song peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming their first Top 40 hit.


Carry on my wayward son,
For there’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more

Once I rose above the noise and confusion
Just to get a glimpse beyond the illusion
I was soaring ever higher, but I flew too high
Though my eyes could see I still was a blind man
Though my mind could think I still was a mad man
I hear the voices when I’m dreamin’, I can hear them say

Carry on my wayward son,
For there’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more

Masquerading as a man with a reason
My charade is the event of the season
And if I claim to be a wise man, it surely means that I don’t know
On a stormy sea of moving emotion
Tossed about I’m like a ship on the ocean
I set a course for winds of fortune, but I hear the voices say

Carry on my wayward son,
For there’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more

Carry on, you will always remember
Carry on, nothing equals the splendor
Now your life’s no longer empty
Surely heaven waits for you

Carry on my wayward son,
For there’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more


According to Livgren, the song was not written to express anything specifically religious, though it certainly expresses spiritual searching and other ideas.

Livgren became an evangelical Christian in 1980, and has said that his songwriting to that point was all about “searching.” Regarding this song, he explained: “I felt a profound urge to ‘Carry On’ and continue the search. I saw myself as the ‘Wayward Son,’ alienated from the ultimate reality, and yet striving to know it or him. The positive note at the end (‘Surely heaven waits for you’) seemed strange and premature, but I felt impelled to include it in the lyrics. It proved to be prophetic.”

The 7″ single has been certified Gold by the RIAA. This version was a much shorter version of the song, edited down to 3:26, a version that was also the band’s only single to chart in the UK, reaching number 51 there. All initial releases of the single had a B-side of “Questions of My Childhood”. The song was later re-released on all Kansas compilation albums (except for Works In Progress) and all Kansas live albums.

This song can be seen as the continuation of the last song of Kansas’ previous album Masque. As stated in the last verse of “The Pinnacle”:
“I stood where no man goes/Above the din I rose
Life is amusing though we are losing
Drowned in tears of awe…”

By definition in the Cambridge dictionary, “Din” is a loud unpleasant confused noise which lasts for a long time. The first line of “Carry On Wayward Son” is: “Once I rose above the noise and confusion.” (thanks, Rich – Trenton, NJ)

This song is 96th on VH1’s 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs.

Cover versions

Rock band The Showdown covered the song in their 2007 album, Temptation Come My Way.

Christian rock band Stryper covered the song in their 2011 album, The Covering.

Retch metal band The Scarlet Stingers covered the song on their album Tomorrow.

In 2012, The A.V. Club, a pop culture website, held its annual A.V. Undercover in which artists are invited to perform cover versions of reader-selected songs. Gwar accepted the challenge and recorded a version of “Carry On Wayward Son” and released a video of it as well. They also released a version on the European version of their album Battle Maximus.

In popular culture

This song has appeared in several movies, including Heroes (1977), Happy Gilmore (1996) and Anchorman – The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004).

The song is played on almost every season finale of The CW ’​s Supernatural. An acoustic version of the song is performed to celebrate the 200th episode of Supernatural which is available in iTunes, along with other songs from the episode.

In a 2015 TV commercial for Miller Lite, a man sings the first two lines while holding a Miller Lite bottle. A cover version appeared as playable track in Guitar Hero II while the mastered recording appeared in Guitar Hero Smash Hits.

The song is featured heavily in the South Park episode, “Guitar Queer-O”.


Kansas 2008.jpg

Origin Topeka, Kansas, United States
  • Art rock
  • progressive rock
Years active
  • 1973–84
  • 1985–present
  • Kirshner
  • MCA
  • Magna Carta
Associated acts
  • Proto-Kaw
  • Streets
  • AD
  • Seventh Key
  • Native Window
  • Deep Purple
  • Phil Ehart
  • Rich Williams
  • Billy Greer
  • David Ragsdale
  • David Manion
  • Ronnie Platt
Past members
  • Kerry Livgren
  • Dave Hope
  • Robby Steinhardt
  • Steve Walsh
  • John Elefante
  • Steve Morse
  • Greg Robert

via [wiki][songfacts]

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