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WCSX Classic Cuts

Kansas: “Carry on Wayward Son”

The Hook: The last song written for the album, they put it down quickly thinking they’d fix it in the mix, but didn’t need to.

Album: Leftoverture

Year: 1976

Writer: Kerry Livgren

Stats: The group’s first Top 40 hit peaked at number-11 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Background: Kansas keyboardist and guitarist Kerry Livgren wrote “Carry on Wayward Son” and played it once for the group just as they were leaving to record the Leftoverture album in Bogolusa, Louisiana. Drummer Phil Ehart recalls that singer Steve Walsh had an emergency and had to leave the session where it was recorded, so they just sort of winged it.

Kansas drummer Phil Ehart on the unexpected way “Carry On Wayward Son” came together in the studio. OC:…the song. :27

“Steve [Walsh] had a death in the family and had to go back to Kansas, so the five of us just kind of put it down on tape. And a lot of the parts that were on the record are just kind of things thrown together that we hoped to go back and repair later, but we never did, ’cause everything worked. Like the opening drum part, ‘Don’t you cry no more boom-boom boom-boom-whack’ – that was just something I threw in there to fill up some space until I could come up with something better. Little did I know that it would become a signature for the song.”