Kansas — Carry On Wayward Son

One of the most covered songs in recent music history, «Carry On Wayward Son», by Kansas, remains as good today as it was in 1976, when it was the most popular and arguably the best song off of Leftoverture. Leftoverture, the band’s fourth release, needed to be good. You see, their previous release, Masque, failed to impress fans or studio executives, and there existed a belief that if the album that would be Leftoverture failed, Kansas would be dropped by their record label.

This is where «Carry On Wayward Son» would come in. Leftoverture was supposed to mark a point in Kansas’ career where they would try to get away from their sound in order to make a more accessible record, but what they in fact did was create an album that showcased their signature progressive rock style in a manner that proved to be quite popular. The thing was, the style wasn’t perceived as such by the Kansas fan base, many of whom had bad things to say about the album. And, considering «Carry On Wayward Son» was the band’s most popular release, many die-hard Kansas fans believed that the band was selling out their ideals to achieve the mainstream success that the record label had in mind for them. This isn’t quite the case.

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While many took «Carry On Wayward Son» and its album as a sign that Kansas was abandoning their philosophies about rock to play a more general classic rock style, this is only the case (and an arguable one at that) on Leftoverture and its follow-up, Point of Know Return. In reality, Kansas was an incredibly progressive band, a fact that is easy enough to see if you listen to earlier, and indeed later Kansas releases. Often missed by some of the fair-weather fans is the incredible bit of innovation on Leftoverture, including the three protracted progressive epics, as well as the use of obscure (for that time) synthesizers and horns. Despite the interesting sound, the synth-horns were not used on any other Kansas albums.

If you are interested in creating a cover version of «Carry On Wayward Son» with your band, you’ll be pleased to know that can you find «Carry On Wayward Son» tablature on the internet, and at various other places. Also, you won’t be alone, because «Carry On Wayward Son» has experienced its fair share of covers, most notably from Christian Rock bands. Most recently, Canadian Christian Rock band Critical Mass covered the song and were nominated for Best Song award at the Canadian Gospel Music Associate Awards. This is the second instance of a Christian Rock band taking the song and putting a Christian spin on it, as Rachel Rachel did the exact same thing in the early 1990s (on the album Way To My Heart). In addition to these covers, Yngwie Malmsteen covered the song in 1996 on his album Inspiration.

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