Carry on, my wayward son
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 this 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 dreaming
I can hear them say

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

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
There'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry, don't you cry no more

No more


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

Carry On Wayward Son Lyrics as written by Kerry Livgren

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Carry on Wayward Son song meanings
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190 Comments

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  • +15
    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
  • +4
    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
  • +3
    General Comment

    ... i can see all 3 sides of it... the JC, prodigal son, and the vietnam war,

    on the prodigal son i think when it says "once i rose above the noise and confusion" is when he realized that he should go back to god the illussion is that he was happy without god, "soreing ever higher" meant he was having a good time but he flew to high, i think is a metaphore back to the wax wings story... once he got too close to the son he fell...

    shallowXgraveon October 12, 2005   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    Although most interested in Alfred E's meaning...i believe it's more of a swing, a man lost within himself, sort of in the classic situation of an angel and devil on his shoulder. The devil telling him to committ sucicide, and the angel telling him to carry on and keep on following your so far unsuccessful life.

    "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."

    This is the devil talking about dying and ending all the pain and confusion he has.

    "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 finds himself looking at his life from the outside, and meets the angel and devil, and cannot decide who to listen to.

    "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 sees the images of the angel and devil in his sleep, he's trapped in his mind, and is unable to choose who to listen to...

    "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."

    This is the devil telling him, if he dies, it will all be over, just like that, he can be at peace with himself, and not worry about anything anymore.

    "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"

    referring to the devil with his motive to get the man to committ sucicide. When he talks about being a wise man, he explains he doesn't know the devil's intentions...

    "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..."

    he's once again trapped in his mind and emotions, swaying back and forth between good and evil. he sets out go on, but keeps hearing the devil say...

    "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. No!"

    once again telling him dying will end everything, the angel disagreeing with a no!

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

    the devil giving the empty promise that all will be good and he will go to heaven.

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

    Ends up with the devil reminding once more how to end all the pain and suffering

    Jan the Manon September 01, 2006   Link
  • +3
    Song Meaning

    The TV show "Supernatural" epitomizes the the soul of the song in which the song is about the overcoming of obstacles of life and then being able to find peace in that.

    wilsonyiuwahwongon September 15, 2011   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 02, 2013   Link
  • +2
    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
  • +2
    General Comment

    I am far from religious, but this song does kind of seem like a higher person, could God, Jesus, or what ever you want to believe. However, I think the singer or writer is talking about people who use "God's" name to gain fame and fortune.

    Smytheice123on April 07, 2012   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 02, 2013   Link

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