Some songs are so well known that whoever you meet, they can sing them. “Don’ Stop Believin’”, “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2”, “Tiny Dancer”, “Come Sail Away”; these songs helped define a generation, and another great example of that is Kansas’ “Carry On Wayward Son” (1976). This song is a song that virtually everyone can recognize and even sing along to. Inside the lyrics to this song is a myriad of images that people have been fighting over their overall meaning for a long time. But what many people never notice is the correlation that this song has with the aftermath of natural disasters, and how people deal with the issues that arise from the disaster.
The song opens up with the chorus, saying “Carry on my wayward son/ For there’ll be peace when you are done” (Kansas). This line foreshadows some sort of issue that the protagonist is having trouble either getting through or finishing. “Lay your weary head to rest/ Don’t you cry no more” (Kansas) almost seems to foreshadow sleep or even eternal sleep in death. The a capella format of the beginning also adds a haunting element before the song proceeds to present both the main theme from the song and also the triplet ‘breakdown’ for lack of better words.
The first verse begins with only a piano accompanying the lyrics. “Once I rose above the noise and confusion/ Just to get a glimpse beyond this illusion” (Kansas) implies a veil around the protagonist, preventing him from knowing what is going on, or perhaps he is keeping himself from finding out. “I was soaring ever higher/ But I flew too high” (Kansas) shows that he seems to like what he saw, but san unknown object prevents him from being able to either get or stay there.
At this point the guitar, bass, and drums enter, giving the song a half-time feel. “Though my eyes could see I still was a blind man/ Though my mind could think I still was a mad man” (Kansas) shows how he is still stuck behind a veil, not knowing what was really going on as he sinks further back into where he was. “I hear the voices when I’m dreaming/ I can hear them say” (Kansas) leads directly to the chorus, showing that the lyrics there are being generated inside his head, as if it was his demons telling him the lines in the chorus.
The chorus repeats, and the main theme is restated before moving into the second verse. “Masquerading as a man with a reason/ My charade is the event of the season” (Kansas) seems to indicate a man who is lost and not sure who he is. He puts on a mask to hide what’s truly going on. The second part can be interpreted as either his cover is so well created he can fool everyone, or it is so bad that everyone can see through, and he is a laughing stock. Out of those, the first one seems the most likely. “And if I claim to be a wise man/ It surely means that I don’t...