Carry On Wayward Son – Kansas | Top 40 Chart Performance, Story and Song Meaning

Chart Performance: Pop (#11); 1977

Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne

From Kansas to White Clover to Kansas: the early days of the Midwest classic rock band were filled with a revolving door of musicians and names before the lineup that released the first Kansas album on Kirshner Records in 1974. Although the band’s first three albums sold respectably, they yielded no hit singles and the pressure was on to produce one. When vocalist Steve Walsh’s creative well dried up under the heat, Kerry Livgren, Kansas’ other chief writer, stepped up to the plate. Just prior to recording time, Livgren offered up an 11th hour song called Carry On Wayward Son, which Kansas recorded for Leftoverture in a Louisiana studio. Leftoverture struck a perfect balance between prog-rock and pop-rock: Europe meets the American heartland. Livgren’s lyrically mystical Carry On Wayward Son carried Kansas onto the Top 40 list for the first time in the Spring of 1977. This classic Kansas lineup then carried on until Steve Walsh left after 1980’s Audio-Visions.

This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2024 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.

Produced by:

  • Jeff Glixman
  • Kansas

Lyrics Written by:

  • Kerry Livgren