This was written by Kansas guitarist Kerry Livgren. According to Livgren, the song was not written to express anything specifically religious, though it certainly expresses spiritual searching and other ideas. Livgren became an evangelical Christian in 1980, and has said that his songwriting to that point was all about "searching." Regarding this song, he explained: "I felt a profound urge to 'Carry On' and continue the search. I saw myself as the 'Wayward Son,' alienated from the ultimate reality, and yet striving to know it or him. The positive note at the end ('surely heaven waits for you') seemed strange and premature, but I felt impelled to include it in the lyrics. It proved to be prophetic."
This song can be seen as the continuation of the last song of Kansas' previous album Masque. As stated in the last verse of "The Pinnacle": I stood where no man goes Above the din I rose Life is amusing though we are losing Drowned in tears of awe By definition in the Cambridge dictionary, "din" is a loud, unpleasant, confused noise which lasts for a long time. The first line of "Carry On Wayward Son" is: "Once I rose above the noise and confusion."
This was the group's first major hit, and like their next one, "Dust In The Wind," it was a last minute addition to the album. Kerry Livgren wrote the song just two days before they started recording Leftoverture. At that point, the band was polishing the songs they had, not bringing in new ones. "I've got one more song that you might want to hear," he told the band, and when he played "Carry On," they knew it was a hit and made it the lead track on the album.
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