What does Carry on Wayward Son mean?

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Kansas: Carry on Wayward Son Meaning

Song Released: 1976


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. 1TOP RATED

    baldgi
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    Dec 9th, 2009 12:19pm report


    Alright knuckleheads. Here's the deal. To understand the words to this song, you have to be a FAN of Kansas's music, and that means ALL of it. The first line is:
    "...once I rose above the noise and confusion, just to get a glipse beyond the illusion..."

    This refers to aa line from a song off of the Masque album called the Pinnacle.

    The line THERE says:
    "...I stood where no man goes, ABOVE THE DIN I ROSE..."

    "din" is a synonym for "confusion"


    Kerry Livgren, in the early 70's was wandering spiritual vagrant. He knew there was more to life than the simple everyday. He dabbled in different religious philosophies and teachings. But nothing ever came to he that smacked him in the face. He was on a voyage, a spiritual voyage to figure out what he believed in. When this was written, he didn't know what he believed in, and that what it's about... It's about looking for answers, not finding them, and continuing your search regardless of the progress thus far.

    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
    (I thought I had the answer, but it wasnt for me)

    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
    (I still don't have the right answer)

    {Refrain}

    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

    (So I'll fake it, pretend I know what the answer is, and MAYBE the answer will suddenly come to me by chance)

    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
    (Its very emotional for me, and very important, but if I stay the course, I'll find the right answer for me.)



  2. 2TOP RATED

    anonymous
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    Jun 21st, 2009 6:15pm 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. 3TOP RATED

    anonymous
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    Mar 12th, 2010 3:34am 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
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    Aug 13th, 8:07pm report


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



  5.  

    anonymous
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    Jun 27th, 6:16am 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.



  6.  

    anonymous
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    Mar 13th, 2017 3:46pm 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.



  7.  

    anonymous
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    Jan 21st, 2015 1:02pm 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


  8.  

    anonymous
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    Jul 13th, 2014 7:26pm 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



  9.  

    anonymous
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    Feb 26th, 2014 2:59pm 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 .



  10.  

    anonymous
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    Jan 10th, 2014 1:59pm 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.



  11.  

    anonymous
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    Oct 22nd, 2013 10:20pm report


    I take this song to be some what religious. I think what we have is a man lost in the world trying to find his answer to life and how to find peace. The voices- angels, god, etc. he's been caught up in himself and the world and not the kind of man he wants to be. He hears god telling him to continue on his journey and at the end he will find peace.

    "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"
    -He tried to find what he was looking for but he wa overthinking it and couldn't figure it out. Illusion that the world gives us of what is the truth.

    "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"
    - even though he could see physically he couldn't see spiritually. He's still trying to find the truth.

    "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 walks around living a lie, pretending like he's okay and he knows the truth but he really doesn't. If he says he doesn't know then that's how he knows he's lying because no one truly knows.

    "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"
    - when he's alone he's crying and on a roller coaster of emotions. He's been driven crazy trying to find out what is right and what to follow.

    "Nothing equals the splendor
    Now your life's no longer empty
    Surely heaven waits for you"
    - this is god reassuring him not to give up. Heaven is waiting for him and he will finish the race someday.



  12.  

    anonymous
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    Oct 7th, 2013 10:50pm report


    This song refers to the story of Daedalus, Icarus, and other characters from greek mythology.

    1. "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 dreamin', I can hear them say..."

    -This refers directly to the story of Icarus and Daedalus. The first 3 lines refer to the escape of Daedalus and Icarus from King Minos. Icarus flew too close to the sun ("too high") and his wings fell apart. He died. Later on, Daedalus killed his nephew, as he was mean, crazy, and heartless after the death of Icarus, his son.


    2. "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."

    -Refers to the wrath of Athena (goddess of wisdom and Daedalus' mother) after Daedalus killed his nephew. She cursed Daedalus, turning him into a partridge. Daedalus would suffer the ache of losing his son and his nephew until his death (last two lines).


    3. "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..."

    -Perhaps referring to the story of the death of King Minos- Daedalus and Icarus' captor. Daedalus arrived in Sicily (in the court of King Cocalus) after Icarus' death. King Cocalus had no idea that the Daedalus had escaped from King Minos. If he had, he would've turned Daedalus in, as King Minos' army was more powerful than the army of Sicily (1st two lines). The third line refers to the when King Minos (who was hunting for Daedalus) arrived in Sicily. Daedalus hid while Minos feasted with Cocalus. Cocalus said he had a very wise man in his court, and suspecting that this may be Daedalus, Minos challenged this man to a riddle. Unable to turn down a challenge, Daedalus solved it, proving that this wise man was Daedalus. Minos was angry, but the daughters of Cocalus (being fond of Daedalus) tricked Minos into his death with the help of Daedalus. The last few lines refer to Daedalus' grieving over Icarus' death, and his attempt to forge a new life (destroyed when Minos shows up).



  13.  

    anonymous
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    Mar 6th, 2013 3:49pm report


    Kansas' "Wayward Son" -my interpretation of it's meaning

    My interpretation of this song is pretty straight forward,at least to myself.

    The first 4 lines,repeated throughout
    -"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"

    -I believe this refers to God calling on all his "wayward sons".The repeated message throughout.God instructing the "wayward son"to continue along his path of enlightenment and the wayward son's efforts to proclaim the truth he's aware of despite opposition,purporting that there will be peace once he completes the task,and God further instructs,"lay your weary head to rest,don't you cry no more",,to myself means take a rest and do not cry for the disbelievers.

    "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"

    -refers to the wayward son's personal enlightenment to the wicked ways of the world in which he finds himself.Such is referenced by the rising above the "illusion" of the world as most see it enabling the wayward son to see the truth of the world.

    "soaring ever higher but I flew too high" meaning,he pursues the truth and the reference to "flew too high" meaning he proclaims this enlightenment to the non believers to the point they believe him crazy due to their inability to see the deceptions the wayward son sees.

    "Though my eyes could see I still was a blind man
    Though my mind could think I still was a mad man"

    -refers to the wayward son's enlightenment of the truth yet he still doesn't know it all.Also referenced that his mind could think to grasp the reality,many viewed him as being mad,or crazy due to their inability to see the truth.

    "I hear the voices when I'm dreaming
    I can hear them say"

    -refers to his ability to hear the voices of truth in his dreams,and he hears them repeating God's message to him,that being,"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" as referred to earlier,and throughout reaffirming God's instructions.

    "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"

    -refers to the enlightened wayward son attempting to awaken the masses,hence the,"Masquerading as a man with a reason
    My charade is the event of the season" and he further,"And if I claim to be a wise man, well It surely means that I don't know"acknowledges he doesn't know it all and is not claiming to be a wise man who understands it all.

    "On a stormy sea of moving emotion
    Tossed about I'm like a ship on the ocean"

    -refers to the emotions he stirs when attempting to spread the truth to the masses and becomes ridiculed by the masses he is attempting to awaken.

    "I set a course for winds of fortune
    But I hear the voices say"

    -refers to the wayward son's steadfastness in his enlightenment to follow the word of God despite the opposition he faces,and once again he hears the voices telling him the truth.And again,God's instructions to rest and not weep for the lost children,and reinforces that instruction affirming,"No",,don't cry anymore,it shall be done."Carry on, you will always remember" meaning he will always remember the truth he has become enlightened to.

    "Carry on, nothing equals the splendor"

    -refers to the wayward son's enlightening and that he will always remember despite the world in which he finds himself yet nothing could equal the splendor,of heaven once his journey is completed,

    "The center lights around your vanity
    But surely heaven waits for you"

    -refers to the wayward son's words appear to be vain and as such is viewed in a light of vanity yet continue for the reward is surely that heaven awaits him once he completes the task God has for him.

    And then we again repeat the message to the wayward son from God,as repeated throughout,reinforcing the instruction to always carry on,and don't cry for the wicked,and the nonbelievers.

    My interpretation.You make of it what you will.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


  14.  

    TWOxTWO
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    Feb 17th, 2013 2:01pm report


    This song has several references to greek mythology.ecspecially the myths of dedalus and odyseus i will show som

    .1"carry on my wayward son" is probably dedalus telling his son Icarus to carry on in heaven after he was wayward and died. or it may the father of odyseus(who went on a long, wayward and dangerous journey) talking to him

    .2"There will be peace when you are done" may be Dedalus telling icarus ther will be peace after he is dead.or Because odyseus fought many monsters on his journey it may mean he will have peace when he returns home.

    .3"i was soaring ever higher but i flew to high" icarus died by flying to high and melting wax that held his wings on.

    .4"on a stormy sea of moving emotion" could mean the sea icarus landed in as he and dedalus thought he should have listened to him. or Because odyseus recieved many offers to stay different places he sailed on a sea of emotion of regret or indescision.

    .5"carry on you will always remember" dead icarus telling dedalus to carry on even though he will always remember his death. or someone telling odyseus to carry on because he remembers his family.

    .6"now your life isnt empty surely heaven waits for you" Icarus living more than an empty life in a maze dedalus telling him he will go to "heaven".or Odyseus returning home now " his life isnt empty" and for doing many noble things heaven waits for him



  15.  

    Lemonpop21
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    Feb 14th, 2013 2:38am report


    Maybe this is only because of what im going through right now, but my interpretation of this song is about a woman/man and a break-up.

    "Once I rose above the noise and confusion just to get a glimpse beyond this illusion", meaning once the woman/man could see clearly, she/he saw that there relationship was an illusion.

    "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 im dreaming", meaning her/his eyes still look and see love, her/his mind still thinks about loving moments together despite the fact they might be apart. She/he hears voices when she/he dreams, about there loved one.

    "carry on my wayward son, they'll be peace when you are done, lay your weary head to rest, dont you cry no more", meaning she/he needs to carry on, and once the heartache is over she/he will find true happiness. Rest your tired body from the pain and not to cry anymore over the past"


    "Masqurading as a man with a reason, my sharade is the event of the season. And if I claim to be a wise man, it surely means that i dont know.On the stormy sea of moving emotion, tossed about it like a ship on the ocean, I set a course for winds of fortune", meaning she/he things there is reason enough to stay and everyone is talking about it. If she/he claims to know what they are doing it means they are wrong. Troubled times but still looking for the good times.

    "carry on, you will always remember, carry on nothing equals the splendor, now your lifes no longer empty, surely heaven awaits you!", meaning she/he will never forget the times they had with the other person, and nothing will ever equal it because all loves are diffrent. Now everything is ok and better things await you.



  16.  

    anonymous
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    Feb 12th, 2013 2:42am report


    I like waffles. And mythbusters shot a bible. Then a narwhal baconed. This calls for celebration: CHEESE, FOR EVERYONE. No, scratch that, cheese for no one. It's just as much a celebration for someone who doesn't like cheese, don't you agree?



  17.  

    anonymous
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    Jan 29th, 2013 1:28pm report


    Not sure who it's about, but like Portrait is about Einstien, and many other Kansas songs have a person in mind, I'm guessing this one was about Martin Luther King Jr. A man who rose above the rhetoric and spin to a vision of a better Nation than the illusion we were led to believe we had that racism didn't allow. His popularity and message was soaring, but it cost him his life. Retractors said he was blind to the reality that blacks were not equal to whites, and called his ideas as those of a madman. He knew he had a Dream and to achieve it he had to carry on.

    You can go through the other verses and bring it about to his movement as well. I don't know if the song is about him, but definately about some peacemaker (as Molly Hatchet would say).



  18.  

    anonymous
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    Aug 3rd, 2012 8:39am report


    it was cleary written because it was to become the theme song to a show years later, based on a father who witnessed his wife murdered by a mean person. the reason was that she interupted the mean person giving one of their two sons candy. and she didnt allow candy. it cleary is good verses evil. i am right. think about it. kansas. where the wicked witch fault glenda. the bubble lady.



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