It took me several years to realize the spiritual roots of two songs that the rock group Kansas released in the late 1970’s. In fact, their two biggest hits both written by band member Kerry Livgren. On both occasions, the band had completed rehearsals for recording an album and Livgren brought in these two songs that actually defined him as a songwriter and made the band a big hit. Here’s the info on both songs from Wikepedia. Also following each description are some Bible verses that support the song.
“Carry On Wayward Son” is a song recorded by American rock band Kansas for their 1976 album Leftoverture: written by band member Kerry Livgren, the song became the band’s first Top 40 single, reaching No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the spring of 1977.
“Carry On Wayward Son” was written after the band had completed rehearsals. Livgren, who perceived the song as being “beamed down” to him en toto, in 2004 stated: “It’s an autobiographical song. 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.”
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He Who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10: 23-24
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3: 13-14
I reflected on everything that is accomplished by man on earth, and I concluded: Everything he has accomplished is futile — like chasing the wind!
A meditation on mortality and the inevitability of death, the lyrical theme bears a striking resemblance to the well-known biblical passages Genesis 3:19 (“…for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”) and Ecclesiastes 3:20 (“All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.”)
Kerry Livgren devised what would be the guitar line for “Dust in the Wind” as a finger exercise for learning fingerpicking. His wife, Vicci, heard what he was doing, remarked that the melody was nice, and encouraged him to write lyrics for it. Livgren was unsure whether his fellow band members would like it, since it was a departure from their signature style. After Kansas had rehearsed all the songs intended for the band’s recording sessions of June and July 1976, Livgren played “Dust in the Wind” for his bandmates, who after a moment’s “stunned silence” asked: “Kerry, where has this been?” Kansas guitarist Rich Williams would recall that Livgren played his bandmates “a real rough recording of him playing [‘Dust in the Wind’] on an old reel to reel. [He] just kind of mumbl[ed] the lyrics, [but] even [hearing it] in that bare form…we said: ‘That’s our next single.'”
I think sometimes rock music gets a bad rap (pun intended). I believe these two songs were given to Livgren during his search for meaning and his “spiritual sojourn” and made the way for his salvation experience in 1979. And I think the songs have impacted many others including me as we press on toward the “prize”.
“Carry on my wayward son; there’ll be peace when you are done.”