When Leftoverture, Kansas’ fourth studio album, was first released as a single in 1976, it became a legendary success. Kerry Livgren, a guitarist, claimed that he didn’t intend for “Carry On Wayward Son” to have a religious undertone; rather, he wanted to indicate a spiritual quest among other related subjects.
The closing track from the previous album, Masque’s “The Pinnacle,” is reported to be continued in this song. Livgren was frequently preaching about searching after converting to Christianity in 1980, stating,
“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.”
“Carry On Wayward Son,” another last-minute addition to Leftoverture, was shared with the group only two days before the album’s recording began. When Livgren presented the finalized track listing to Kansas and said, “I’ve got one more song that you might want to hear,” the group decided to make it the album’s lead single.
Released as a single, peaking at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1977. Gazmada’s rendition of Kansas’ “Carry on Wayward Son” is worth a listen in the video below: