When Kerry Livgren wrote and performed “Carry On My Wayward Son,” it became the one hit single that Kansas was missing in their quest for stardom. It reached as high as the 11th spot on the Billboard charts by 1977. 

However, their first hit single never reached the heights of their next top hit. Livgren and Kansas recorded “Dust in the Wind” shortly afterwards. It reached Billboard’s sixth spot in 1978.

The two most recognizable Kansas songs both have a lot of depth and meaning in their lyrics, but they also have conflicting tones. “Carry On My Wayward Son” drives home a message of encouragement through adversity while “Dust in the Wind” is contemplative about the emptiness of the world.

Carry On My Wayward Son

Livgren explained the thought behind “Carry On My Wayward Son” in a 2004 interview.

“It’s an autobiographical song,” he said. “Parallel to my musical career I’ve always been on a spiritual sojourn, looking for truth and meaning. It was a song of self-encouragement. I was telling myself to keep on looking and I would find what I sought.”

He authentically acknowledges his flaws, a mark of the spiritual journey in his life that he’s consistently been open about.

“Masquerading as a man with a reason/ My charade is the event of the season/ And if I claim to be a wise man, well/ It surely means that I don’t know”

The final verse of the song wraps the narrative together with a positive tone that indicates a resolution to the “wayward” behavior. 

“Now your life’s no longer empty/ Surely heaven waits for you”

Dust in the Wind

The lyrics to “Dust in the Wind” have some of the same themes about Livgren’s spiritual journey. However, the tone of the song is much more mellow than “Carry On My Wayward Son.” 

“Dust in the Wind” brings in philosophical ideas that go as far as the meaning of life. It can bend the minds of listeners with a powerful affect.

“Same old song/ Just a drop of water in an endless sea/ All we do/ Crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see”

While the thought of “Dust in the Wind” isn’t the most upbeat, the song has stood the test of time for over our decades as a thought-provoking masterpiece.

Kansas- The Best of Both Worlds

The ability of Livgren to blend his personal beliefs about life and his spiritual journey into two conflicting beats and messages is impressive. It provides fans of Kansas with a choice of their favorite for their favorite style. 

When Kansas visits the Keswick Theatre in June, they can enjoy the electric guitar in “Carry On My Wayward Son” for an energetic mood. They can also hear the meditative lyrics of “Dust in the Wind ” to feel a different kind of emotion.

 

25 Rock Stars Who Celebrate January Birthdays

  • Bernard Fowler (Jan. 2)

    Bernard Fowler has sung vocals for the ageless Rolling Stones since the 1980s. He has also performed with Yoko Ono, Alice Cooper, and Steve Lukather.

  • John Paul Jones (Jan. 3)

    John Richard Baldwin, aka John Paul Jones, reached stardom at the height of Led Zeppelin’s fame during the 1970s. While Jimmy Page and Robert Plant took the bulk of the attention for the band’s success, Jones was the bassist and keyboardist as well as a talented songwriter.

    John Paul Jones is credited as a major contributor in writing some of the biggest hits from Led Zeppelin, including “Fool in the Rain,” “All My Love,” “D’Yer Maker,” and “Black Dog.”

    He entered the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Led Zeppelin in 1995.

  • Stephen Stills (Jan. 3)

    Stephen Stills has found success wherever he’s landed at different points throughout his career. His work as a singer for Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills & Nash earned him inductions into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of each group.

    Stills and Neil Young performed together as original members of Buffalo Springfield. Young also crashed the party to form Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young for just over a year’s span in 1969 and 1970.

    Some of Stills’ most memorable songs, including “For What it’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield and “Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, involved Vietnam War protests.

  • Michael Stipe (Jan.4)

    Michael Stipe starred as the lead singer of R.E.M. during the height of their popularity in the 1980s. His crafty vocal work for “It’s the End of the World As We Know It” still makes listeners wonder how he pulled off the tongue twister.

  • Robby Krieger (Jan. 8)

    Robby Krieger became one of the original members of the Doors in 1965 along with Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek. He was a contributing writer for “Light My Fire” and “Touch Me” along with many more of the Doors’ greatest hits.

  • Elvis Presley (Jan. 8)

    The King of Rock & Roll would’ve celebrated his 88th birthday on Jan. 8, 2023.

     

  • David Bowie (Jan. 8)

    Beyond his incredible work as a musician, David Bowie revolutionized the importance of stage presence and a persona that fed his popularity. He created his alter ego Ziggy Stardust in 1972. The attraction to this character helped his album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars fly off the shelves.

    Bowie passed away on Jan. 10, 2016 after a battle with liver cancer. He is remembered for timeless hits like “Changes,” “Space Oddity,” and “Heroes,” among many others.

  • Jimmy Page (Jan. 9)

    Six days after John Paul Jones celebrates, Jimmy Page will follow. The founder and lead guitarist of Led Zeppelin also played with the Yardbirds during the 1960s. Despite confusion about the origins of the song, Page helped make “Stairway to Heaven” one of the most famous rock songs of all time.

    He entered the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Yardbirds in 1992 and as a member of Led Zeppelin in 1995.

  • Pat Benetar (Jan. 10)

    Pat Benetar entered the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in November 2022. She climbed toward the top of the charts with “Heartbreaker” in 1979 and “Love Is a Battlefield” in 1983.

  • Rod Stewart (Jan. 10)

    Rod Stewart achieved success through his solo career and as the lead singer of Faces. His solo album Every Picture Tells a Story included some of his biggest hits like “Maggie May” and “Reason to Believe.”

  • Donald Fagen (Jan. 10)

    Steely Dan lead singer and keyboardist Donald Fagen still tours solo even after the unfortunate passing of Walter Becker in 2017.

  • Jim Croce (Jan. 10)

    South Philly native and Upper Darby High School alum Jim Croce would’ve turned 80 in 2023. He died tragically during the prime years of his music career in 1973. One of his biggest hits, “I Got a Name,” was released the day after he died.

     

  • Tommy Conwell (Jan. 14)

    While Andre Gardner and Tony Harris might grab all the attention attention at MGK on Jan. 14, three rock stars will also celebrate their birthdays.

    Local legend Tommy Conwell also turns 61.

  • Dave Grohl (Jan. 14)

    Dave Grohl played in two of the most influential rock bands of the 1990s. He helped Nirvana spearhead the popularity of grunge rock in the early 1990s before forming Foo Fighters in 1994.

  • Zakk Wylde (Jan. 14)

    Zakk Wylde has played guitar in Ozzy Osbourne’s band after the Black Sabbath era. He has also performed with Black Label Society and more recently with Pantera.

  • Mick Taylor (Jan. 17)

    Mick Taylor played with the Rolling Stones from 1969-1974, appearing on six albums before pursuing a solo career that lasted through five decades.

  • Susanna Hoffs (Jan. 17)

    Susanna Hoffs sang hits like “Manic Monday” and “Walk Like an Egyptian” for the Bangles during the 1980s. She began a solo career during the 1990s.

  • Paul Stanley (Jan. 20)

    Paul Stanley has mastered a role as the “driving force and unwavering voice of KISS” since the 1970s. The band’s unique sense of fashion reserved them a spot in history on top of their excellent music.

    Stanley wrote KISS’s most widely-recognized song “Rock and Roll All Nite” in 1975.

  • Steve Perry (Jan. 22)

    Steve Perry entered the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Journey in 2017 after two stints as the band’s lead singer. Odds are that you’ve heard “Don’t Stop Believin'” at least once or twice.

  • Steven Adler (Jan. 22)

    Drummer Steven Adler helped Guns ‘N Roses become a prominent band in the hard rock scene of the 1980s. He entered the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the band in 2012.

  • Robin Zander (Jan. 23)

    Robin Zander sang lead vocals for Cheap Trick. “Surrender” and “I Want You to Want Me” became two of their most popular hits during the 1970s.

    However, their adaptation of “That ’70s Song” brought them back into the public eye in the late 1990s and early 2000s when it was used as the theme song for the final seven seasons of That ’70s Show.

  • Tom Keifer (Jan. 26)

    Delaware County’s own Tom Keifer became the lead singer and guitarist for Cinderella in the 1980s.

  • Eddie Van Halen (Jan. 26)

    Eddie Van Halen and his brother Alex co-founded Van Halen in 1982. Eddie is remembered as one of the greatest and most innovative guitar players in history.

    He passed away in 2020 at age 65.

  • Nick Mason (Jan. 27)

    Nick Mason played drums for Pink Floyd at the height of their popularity during 1970s. He enter the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the band in 1996.

    One of the Pink Floyd’s most impressive strengths was creating concept albums, including Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall. Mason is credited as a contributing writer to “Speak to Me” and “Time” from Dark Side of the Moon.

  • Phil Collins (Jan. 30)

    Phil Collins reached stardom as the drummer and lead singer of Genesis during the 1970s. Genesis made a major impact on the ’70s progressive rock scene with hits like “That’s All” and “Follow You, Follow Me.”

    Collins also put together a successful solo career beginning in the 1980s, most famously through “In The Air Tonight.”