What does Carry on Wayward Son mean?

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Kansas: Carry on Wayward Son Meaning

Song Released: 1976

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Carry on Wayward Son Lyrics

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...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Apr 4th 2011 report

    I feel this song is about a man who is lost. To further elaborate, this is a man who had every non-materialistic thing he wanted in life such as friends, popularity etc. 'Rising' above the rest if you will (Once I rose above the noise and confusion
    Just to get a glimpse beyond this illusion).
    He was feeling really good about himself,but he got complacent. He took everybody around him for granted and pushed away the ones he should have held close. (I was soaring ever higher
    But I flew too high).

    Then, as things began to fall apart he didn't know what to do, having things always going his way before. He tries to make things right but failing because he couldn't see how (Though my eyes could see I still was a blind man). He hurt the ones around him unknowningly when he was simply trying to improve himself because he can't tell wrong from right. (Though my mind could think I still was a mad man)
    He pushes himself on even in his sleep, telling himself to carry on. (I hear the voices when I'm dreaming
    I can hear them say)

    He pretended (Masquerading as a man with a reason) to know what he was doing in front of others so as not to seem wrong. He tried to justify his actions more so to himself then to others (My charade is the event of the season). He claims what he is doing is right, and that he states he knows what he is doing to his loved ones so as they would not worry, yet he doesn't know where he is going either(And if I claim to be a wise man, well
    It surely means that I don't know). After everything, he found out he had lost all he once had because of what his actions and tries to regain his 'past' self. but he is confronted with an array of uncontrollable emotions and not knowing what is right or wrong makes it worse.
    (On a stormy sea of moving emotion
    Tossed about I'm like a ship on the ocean)
    He continues to push himself knowing the odds, picturing himself as he once was and heading towards that goal.
    (I set a course for winds of fortune
    But I hear the voices say)
    The chorus states exactly what it says on the tin. To carry on as there will be peace when he is done. (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)


    #2 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Jun 21st 2009 report

    I feel that the song has less to do about Greek and Bible Mythology and more about the way we live our lives. I see a person working and struggling through life who realizes that he's been wasting his life. He talks about rising above everything, he's describing climbing the "corporate ladder." Soaring ever higher but he flew too high, he lost sight of what was important. References to being blind but able to see are alluding to not seeing what's important. He dreams about leaving this life of stress and material. He is Wayward from his true self and doesn't want to live this way anymore. He even says he "set a course for winds of fortune, but I hear the voices say..." he tried to achieve fortune but he knew that was not his destiny. It is why he is on a "stormy sea of moving emotion." He is not happy and wants to change.


    #3 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Mar 12th 2010 report

    I always thought this was about a soldier trying to rationalize what he's doing and his experiences in war.

    These were the top three lines I found that seem to point towards his justifications:

    ---"There'll be peace when you are done" - usually claimed to be the reasons nations go to war. Our soldier here feels that he is bringing peace by fighting a just cause.

    ---"Masquerading as a man with a reason" - Again, he's trying to cling to the belief that his side is correct, and that there is a reason for the violence... However he is struggling with or even doubting this justification.

    ---"Surely heaven waits for you" - This could either be the belief that someday he will leave the horror of battle to a more pleasant place, maybe by death, or it could again be the product of the belief that what he is doing is right (aka going to gain him a place in heaven for his good deeds)

    Other quotes:

    ---"Just to get a glimpse beyond this illusion" - this could represent the soldier's attempt to understand the true circumstances of the war, because he is questioning the morality of the war in which he involved. Perhaps he believes he is mislead regarding the enemy, the illusion being the original thoughts he had about the situation.

    ---"I can hear the voices when I'm dreaming" - Possibly the effects of PTSD, remembering the horror of war. This would be especially significant if he feels remorse for the killing.

    ---"My charade is the event of the season" - Perhaps our soldier feels cynical towards the glorification of war. He expresses contempt toward the sugar-coated coverage of his experiences during the war by media or other sources.

    ---"On a stormy sea of moving emotion" - again, during and after the war our soldier probably felt conflict of emotions regarding the morality of the situation. This would be intensified by the physical extremes he endured in combat.

    ---"You will always remember" - Simply put, he will never forget his service, for better or for worse.

  4. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Mar 23rd report

    I think the song is about someone who is woke. He Realizes that this world that we live in is simply just an allusion and every day life and stresses and events or simply noise and confusion he clearly says this when he says once he rose above the noise and confusion just to get a glimpse beyond this illusion. This clearly is someone who understands that we are eternal and this is temporary and that we are spiritual beings living in a body

  5. anonymous
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    Mar 4th report

    Hi im lost and this has always been my favorite song for seventeen years and i was praying and thinking a lot and this song came on and it really made me think. If the whole world really went away today, and i died, I would see God. But to truly allow that into our imagination is too hard because its the Truth. and the truth about the truth is it doesnt make sense and its the hardest thing to accept. Are we really this selfish

  6. Pennman
    click a star to vote
    Nov 12th report

    This is the biography of St. Augustine. He is the wayward son of his mother St. Monica. She raised him Christian, he spent the better part of his life in search of the truth. Eventually he came full circle, found the truth, got baptized, and returned to his Catholic beginnings.

  7. anonymous
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    Mar 3rd 2020 report

    I don't think I can do better than #1. It is amazing how closely that mirrors my life right now.

    My son and I are big fans of SUPERNATURAL. This song played on there all the time and it became our "song". Countless times, I played the song, hoping that we could get back to our previous relationship before my divorce. Trying to have faith that my decision would be better for us all in the long run. But, I have my doubts.

  8. anonymous
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    Jul 2nd 2019 report

    Looks like this song is about the overreaching and stretched out mind of a wayward son who sadly broke away from his Father and now hears voices telling him to ''carry on my wayward son'' who's gone westward as a modern day ''citizen kane'', chasing his dream sort of speaking. Thinking that he was/is on equal terms with him, wanting to make it big out there overlooking the world, but soon realized he's just a madman warrior who got too high on his own works, hoping to obtain worldly peace and a peace of mind one day after he's done with his own works and with the crying shame that he brought upon himself. a great song that reminds me of the PARABLE of the Prodgical Son of the Bible in a real way without the face mask who left home and gradually distanced himself from the wisdom of his Father to do business out west with all of the schism of things that were split in pieces to the point of almost squandering all of his inheritance away that his loving and forgiving Father originally gave him.

  9. anonymous
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    Dec 7th 2017 report

    Its a song about the seventh angel
    (The Angel and the Small Scroll) When the seven thunders had spoken, I was about to put it in writing. But I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down.” Then the angel I had seen standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven. And he swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and everything in it, the earth and everything in it, and the sea and everything in it: “There will be no more delay!…

  10. anonymous
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    Nov 19th 2017 report

    'In the year of the new century and nine months,
    From the sky will come a great King of Terror...
    The sky will burn at forty-five degrees.
    Fire approaches the great new city..."
    In the city of York there will be a great collapse,
    2 twin brothers torn apart by chaos while the
    fortress falls the great leader will succumb,
    the third big war will begin when the big city is

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  11. anonymous
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    Nov 8th 2017 report

    I thought it was jesus vs Buddha

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  12. anonymous
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    Aug 13th 2017 report

    I've always thought this was a song about the exploits of a serial killer. I think the lyrics fully support this interpretation.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  13. anonymous
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    Jun 27th 2017 report

    Call me crazy but i hear a heavy religious undertone in the song. And to be more specific about Judas and his feeling of guilt and remorse and his end.

    -Once I rose above the noise and confusion
    Just to get a glimpse beyond this illusion-

    Him finally realising wat he has done and how wrong the path was he took.

    Soaring ever higher but i flew to high.

    Overstepping his place and thinking wat path to take for the followers.

    Masquarading as a man with a reason My charade is the event of the season. If i claim to be a wise man it Surely means that i dont know

    Every word here symbolises Judas. Looking back at has actions with regret.

    The emotion part and the ship on the ocean

    Inner Strugle of his choice

    Carry on you will always remember. Carry on nothing equals the splendor

    Towards the end judas took his own life. The frist sentence is about his guilt and hoe he has to live with it day and night. Carry on Theres nothing above heaven.

    Dont you cry no more. Step out of this life and go to heaven.

  14. anonymous
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    Mar 13th 2017 report

    A song that came to me in an innocent time back in '76 now it's 2016 and I'm mother and even a grandma- so this song has a meaning to me today. My wayward son who got hooked into heroin 10 years ago and the words makes me feel that peace will come to him someday let him find his way and no longer a wayward son but a young man who actually lose his adolescence years to the drug-as i pray that he will find his way.

  15. anonymous
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    Jan 21st 2015 report

    I’ve always seen these words to be telling the story of a dying young man getting his last rights from a priest who know that his injuries are fatal. And the young man not wanting to die.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  16. anonymous
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    Jul 13th 2014 report

    This is a spiritual lyrical reference with vast conclusion referenced from the the true scribes written in God's Word. Lay your weary head to rest. That is a promise that only salvation with Jesus chosen as savior will bring. Not because I say so. Because the bible says so. But, I hear the voices say. Voices is singular from whom they come from( Holy Spirit). But uses as plural knowing that the Holy Spirit uses His voice to guide us every minute, hour, and day of our God given lives. Because His promises are sovereign. There is only one path that ends in peace. Jesus is the author, the redeemer, and the only way to God. Again. Not because I say so, but because God says so. Don't trust your own understanding. It frankly will display its worthlessness sooner hopefully or later( hopefully not). Read the bible, turn to Jesus. Your soul will not go without suffering, but just the opposite. Your wayward suffering will place you asking your creator God for peace. Only He delivers. God bless your path of hopeful righteousness with Jesus, keeping you safe, secure, and one with God Almighty:-)<3

  17. anonymous
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    Feb 26th 2014 report

    carry on my wayward son but not on the path that you have been on. don't lay your weary head to rest until you have repented and confessed and come back home to your father by following the blood trail of Christ .

  18. anonymous
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    Jan 10th 2014 report

    Just to add to the Greek mythology interpretations; Socrates spent his whole life going from place to place trying to find the wisest man on earth when he already knew that he himself was the wisest man on earth. In the story, ever time a man would claim to Socrates to be the wisest on earth, Socrates would tell him that he is not because he was arrogant enough to claim to be the wisest man on earth. The line " and if I claim to be a wise man, this surely means that I don't know", and the song in general, could be a reference to Socrates.

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