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



Lyrics submitted by amblin2u, edited by Tasaar, Octavarium64, Teampeeta254

"Carry On Wayward Son" as written by Kerry A Livgren

Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing

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Carry on Wayward Son song meanings
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164 Comments

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  • +5
    General Comment:This is a little different than what everyone else has been say- but i first heard this song when I was going through a very emotionally trying adolescent stage. I see this song about a teenager who feels so much turmoil inside, but tries hide it.

    "Carry on my wayward son,
    They'll be peace when you are done.
    Lay your weary head to rest,
    Don't you cry no more " -

    the son is the teenager, who is wayward- either he is rebelling or just feels mixed up inside- the chorus is telling him to carry on bec at the end there will be peace- once he grows out of that stage he will be in better control of his feelings and feel at peace.

    "Once I rose above the noise and confusion,
    Just to get a glimpse beyond this illussion.
    I was soring ever higher,
    But I flew too high. "

    He tries to get out of his confusing feelings to see if he could see the world normally and live happily as it seems everyone else is doing. But he flew too high- he started thinking too much thus pushing him back into his depression and turmoil.

    "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 dreaming,
    I can hear them say... "

    He can see and think and seems normal but inside he is a "mad man".

    "Masquerading as a man with a reason,
    My charade is the event of the season
    And if I claim to be a wise man, well
    It surely means that I don't know "

    He tries to be all cool and confident and is really popular- no one knows how he is feeling inside. If he acts so wise like he knows everything- a lot of teenagers think they know everything- but they really dont and are very inexperienced with life.

    "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... "

    This can either just be simply about the way hes feeling- confused and tossed around - or maybe "I set a course for winds of fortune"- he thought that by acting a certain way and all cool he would be happy but really he just keeps getting more miserable. Maybe hes involved with the wrong crowd, maybe hes into drugs.

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

    Talking about when he outgrows this stage- "nothing equals the splendor"- of being in your 20's and in control of your life- it feels like you have the whole world ahead of you- "surely heaven waits for you"
    RPZQon November 19, 2004   Link
  • +3
    My Opinion:I have a theory
    as some of you will know this song is used as 'The Road So Far' recap song in "Supernatural". Knowing a lot about it, i have found (along with many fans) how the lyrics connect so much to the series.

    The series is about two brothers (Sam and Dean) who were raised by their father to hunt the supernatural (demons, spirits etc.). This was because their mother was killed by a demon when the boys were very young. The series pretty much begins with their father going missing, and the two boys fight their way towards finding him. Unfortunatley, when the boys find their father, they are only with him a couple of weeks before he dies (long story). It was their father's dying wish that the boys would continue to hunt evil, and so 5 years later they are still.

    So, i find that the chorus lyrics -

    "Carry on my wayward son,
    There'll be peace when you are gone
    lay your weary head to rest
    don't you cry no more"




    sound s lot like something the boys' father would say to them (Dean especially since he was more loyal)

    i guess it could be a little religoius, going into the season 4 and 5 when the angels are introduced











    5H4ZZ33on May 04, 2010   Link
  • +3
    General Comment:As I’m reading the general comments below, I have to smile because it seems to me that no matter whether you feel that the song is about a loved one, religious, spiritual, or as suggested below the perils of our brave Vietnam soldiers, a commentary on Icarus (who was soaring ever higher but flew too high) or even Hamlet (who hears “the voices” when he’s dreaming – perhaps even the voice of his murdered father, King Hamlet, who is encouraging him to “carry on”)…….the point is that the song has touched the hearts and minds of listeners for 36 years! That is what makes this song truly great and lasting decade after decade.

    When Kerry Livgren wrote the song for Kansas’ 1976 album, we don’t really know if he had a deeper intention for the song or if the lyrics meant something to him personally – perhaps a commentary on his own spiritual journey. Many serious Kansas fans believe that the song carries over from Masque album especially evident in the line: "...I stood where no man goes, above the din I rose..." with "din" being a synonymous for "confusion" as in “once I rose above the noise and confusion…”

    The bottom line is that the hero’s (in this case the wayward son) spiritual journey has been an artistic genre for centuries and is powerful because the quest to find what is real and true is at the very core of who we are. The amazing musicianship, the ripping guitar solo, and touching lyrics are what keeps “Carry On Wayward Son” in the top 100 rock songs of all time and a favorite of even my 9 year old son.
    hippichickon January 01, 2013   Link
  • +2
    General Comment:I believe that this song is heavy symbolic and relion oriented but mainly deals with Icarus. Son of Deadlus, the ancient Cretan was given a set of metal wings to escape the island and reach god. The wings melted in the sun's light though and Icraus fell to Earth. The story is symbolic of humans' drive for ultimate power leads us only to more troubles. Just read the lyrics and try to apply this...
    thebearcave123on October 04, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General Comment:it's clearly about Sam and Dean Winchester
    motherby173on January 10, 2010   Link
  • +2
    My Interpretation:I see this as a song from heaven. about a person who has lost his way in life or does things that are regarded as sinning or even has just had so many bad things happen and he has lost faith. But even still he can put things right. Basically telling him to pick himself up after all the heartache that has been caused and try to pull something good from all the bad.

    Im not religious but I see this as religiously written. I do relate to this though and in some way I see myself as the person this song talks to in some ways.
    tye1144on September 21, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General Comment:Hello Sheesh / Police1545 (below),

    Clearly you did not get the point whatsoever....holy crap problem NOT solved. To dismiss the song and its significance as some drug trip that only (god forbid) those evil "drug users" would “get” is short sided to say the least. The song hasn't inspired people since 1976 simply because it's a drug induced meaningless pile of words -- it moves people because the lyrics are powerful and the musicianship supreme. It has inspired generations because of how people "feel" when they hear the song. Many think it's the story of a hero (i.e. "the wayward son" ) who us undergoing a journey (presumably spiritual in nature). Whether his journey is real, a dream, experienced through meditation or drugs -- it doesn't matter. The point is the journey and the protagonist attempt to "rise above the noise and confusion" to find out what is real and true. The wayward son is haunted by "the voices" who seem to be telling him to press on or "carry on" with the journey and that he will eventually come to terms with or experience "peace" in the end "for there'll be peace when you are done". What is clear is that you are not as introspective one would hope -- so next time spare us the superficial, judgmental "it must be drugs" sophomoric commentary so that we can get on to something more substantial.
    hippichickon January 01, 2013   Link
  • +2
    My Interpretation:This song rocks.

    To me, this song is about a person who has some sort of a mission or mandate, and is trying to fight or go against it by "setting a course" for fortune, or his own personal interests or whatever, with his attempts getting derailed. However, he knows he has a purpose, bringing say, peace, to people, and deep down, he knows he can't really stray from it.

    The "there'll be peace when you are done" line, however, may suggest that, at the end of his journey, he'll find rest and what he longed after and that his mission has succeeded then.

    Alternatively, it could mean that the Wayward Son has found peace in form of a final rest, and doesn't have to suffer that pain he appears to.
    endon40on May 02, 2013   Link
  • +2
    Song Meaning:Pretty sure this is about Icarus.
    Ancient Roman/Greek legend has it that while he and his father were escaping a labyrinth his father built, on wings his father made for him, he flew too close to the sun and the wings melted.
    Icarus was kinda crazy, having grown up in isolation. So both the story and the lyrics are analogous with much of the modern world.
    f8loston May 24, 2013   Link
  • +2
    My Interpretation:To me, this song reminds me of Anakin Skywalker's situation as the Chosen One. The chorus line to me is like the Force (or Qui-Gon Jinn) telling him to keep doing what he's doing after he becomes Darth Vader.

    In the first verse, it makes me think of how Anakin wanted to save his wife from death. He grew strong in the Force, but he became too arrogant in his power and lost his perspective when he turned to the Dark Side.

    Second verse:


    Masquerading as a man with a reason (Darth Vader in Anakin's guise)

    My charade is the event of the season (The Great Jedi Purge)

    And if I claim to be a wise man, it surely means that I don't know (Anakin/Vader questioning what he's doing)

    On a stormy sea of moving emotion (Anakin/Vader's fight with Obi-Wan on Mustafar, along with the killings he committed at the Great Jedi Purge in his rage)

    Tossed about I'm like a ship on the ocean (Anakin transforming into Vader physically)

    I set a course for winds of fortune, but I hear the voices say (Anakin becoming fully immersed in the Dark Side, despite his physical injuries in his first duel with Obi-Wan)

    Third verse:

    Carry on, you will always remember (Vader remembers all that he had done as both Anakin and Vader, i.e. the slaying of Jedi and Sith alike, loving Padme, etc.)

    Carry on, nothing equals the splendor (Vader remembers his defeat at the hands of Obi-Wan in their first duel)

    Now your life's no longer empty (Vader finds out that he has a son, Luke Skywalker)

    Surely heaven waits for you (There's hope for Vader to turn good again and that the Force awaits him)

    Final chorus: Vader defeats the Emperor, at the cost of his own life and the galaxy as at peace, and he brings balance to the Force by destroying both the Jedi and the Sith (which includes himself in both cases being that Anakin was both a Jedi and a Sith).
    PyroJedion January 26, 2014   Link

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