Kansas

Carry on Wayward Son

Song Review by

Using the rudiments of prog rock and the power of an anthem, 1976's "Carry On Wayward Son" became just the single to catapult the band's Leftoverture album into a multi-million seller. While quite of few of the songs of the time where better equipped to deal with the specifics of angst, "Carry On Wayward Son" did its best work musically.

That sense is evident in the song's construction. This begins with the chorus, the hard charging guitars, and, later, lead singer Steve Walsh's vocals. Lyrically this isn't Shakespeare with its nautical metaphors and sophomoric poesy. While many like-minded songs would crumble under that fact, this oddly doesn't. That being said, Walsh is most effective away from the pretensions. Walsh and the players seem to warm up as the song goes along. Shouting a simple "don't you cry no more," he articulates the confusion the earlier lines seemed to hint at. After an ear-splitting guitar solo, Walsh goes back for more and screams another "no more." Is it overwrought? Sure, but it also sounds great. This song was also used to great effect in the 1977 film Heroes, which starred Henry Winkler, Sally Field, and Harrison Ford. While most of Leftoverture may have been forgotten to some, "Carry On Wayward Son" remains a high point of late-'70s rock.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Reelin' in the Years, Vol. 5 1977
Various Artists
Sandstone 5:23
Rock Album, Vol. 1 [K-Tel] 1980
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 5:24
No Image 1990
Various Artists
Capitol 0:00
Hot 'n Heavy 1991
Various Artists
Columbia 5:23
Rock of the 70's, Vol. 5 1992
Various Artists
DCC Compact Classics 5:23
Sounds of the Seventies: AM Heavy Hits 1994
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 5:24
Flashback!: Rock Classics of the '70s 1995
Various Artists
Realm Records 5:23
No Image 1995
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 5:22
Disco Rock Classics, Vol. 2 1996
Various Artists
ZYX Music 5:23
I Wanna Rock 1999
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 5:21
I Wanna Rock, Vol. 1 1999
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 5:21
RNR Greatest Hits of the 70's, Vol. 1 1999
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 5:22
Definitive Collection 1999 Sony Music Distribution 5:20
Rock: Train Kept a Rollin' 1999
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 3:38
Rock 'N Rolls Hits, Vol. 2 2000
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 5:22
Classic Rock 70's 2000
Various Artists
Trans World 5:21
Hard Rock Essentials [Trans World] 2000
Various Artists
Trans World 5:21
Hard Rockin' Hits: 20 Original Recordings 2000
Various Artists
Madacy 5:23
No Image 2000
Various Artists
Realm Records 5:23
The Ultimate Kansas 2002 Legacy / Epic 5:22
Mullets Rock! 2003
Various Artists
Epic 5:22
Rock 'N' Roll's Greatest Hits 70's 2003
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 5:22
Rockin' 70's [Sony] 2004
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 5:24
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy 2004
Original Soundtrack
Republic 5:44
Sail On: The 30th Anniversary Collection 1974-2004 2004 Epic / Legacy 5:23
Triple Treat: Rock 2004
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 5:24
Legends of Rock [Time Life] 2005
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 5:23
On the Other Side 2005 BMG Special Products / Sony Music Distribution 5:23
Feel the Noize: All Time Greatest Rock Anthems 2006
Various Artists
American Beat Records 5:23
Super Hits 2007 Sony Music Distribution / Sony BMG 5:23
Rock Classics [Sony BMG] 2007
Various Artists
Sony BMG 5:21
Now That's What I Call Classic Rock 2008
Various Artists
Capitol 5:21
Seventies Power Ballads 2008
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution / Virgin 5:21
101 Power Ballads [EMI] 2008
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 5:21
Classic Rock BBQ 2008
Various Artists
Hallmark Recordings 0:00
OCC Rocks 2009
Various Artists
CMG / Orange Coun / Red / OCC Records 3:27
Pure... Guitar Heroes 2010
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:26
Classic Rock Roadtrip 2010
Various Artists
Sony Music Entertainment 5:23
The Music of Kansas 2010 Epic / Legacy 5:24
Made in America: 20 Classic All-American Anthems 2011
Various Artists
Sony Music 5:21
Ultimate Guide to Rock Anthems 2011
Various Artists
Haynes / Sony Music 3:26
Pure... Drive 2011
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:26
The Box Set Series 2014 Epic / Legacy 5:24
The 70s: Kansas 2014 Sony Music 5:24
Miracles Out of Nowhere 2015 Sony BMG / Sony Legacy 5:22
100 Hits: The Best Rock & Power Ballads
Various Artists
100 Hits / Sony Music 3:29
Party Tyme Karaoke: Classic Rock, Vol. 1
Karaoke
Sybersound Records 3:43
Rock Line, Vol. 5
Various Artists
Hit Master / Zebralution
The Heart of Classic Rock [Box Set]
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 5:24